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Evolution as a general theoretical framework for economics and public policy

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  • Wilson, David Sloan
  • Gowdy, John M.

Abstract

Economic and evolutionary thinking have been entwined throughout their histories, but evolutionary theory does not function as a general theoretical framework for economics and public policy, as it does for the biological sciences. In this lead article for a special issue of the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, we first describe how evolution functions as a general theoretical framework in the biological sciences. Then we consider four reasons why evolution might not need to be consulted for human-related subjects such as economics and public policy. We conclude that these reasons can be valid in particular cases, but they fail for any sizeable human-related subject area. Hence evolution can and should become a general theoretical framework for economics and public policy. The other articles in the special issue help to substantiate this claim.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 90 (2013)
Issue (Month): S ()
Pages: S3-S10

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:90:y:2013:i:s:p:s3-s10

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

Related research

Keywords: Adaptation; Economic history; Evolution; Public policy;

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References

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  1. Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh & John M. Gowdy, 2000. "The Microfoundations of Macroeconomics: An Evolutionary Perspective," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-021/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Geoffrey Hodgson, 2007. "Taxonomizing the Relationship Between Biology and Economics: A Very Long Engagement," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 169-185, August.
  3. Ulrich Witt, 2008. "What is specific about evolutionary economics?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 18(5), pages 547-575, October.
  4. Leonard, Thomas C., 2009. "Origins of the myth of social Darwinism: The ambiguous legacy of Richard Hofstadter's Social Darwinism in American Thought," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 37-51, July.
  5. Veblen, Thorstein, 1898. "Why Economics is not an Evolutionary Science," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 12.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Stoelhorst, J.W. & Richerson, Peter J., 2013. "A naturalistic theory of economic organization," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages S45-S56.
  2. Russell C. Weaver & Jason Knight, 2014. "Evolutionary Mismatch as a General Framework for Land Use Policy and Politics," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(2), pages 504-523, June.
  3. Ulrich Witt, 2013. "The Future of Evolutionary Economics: Why Modalities Matter," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2013-09, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  4. Wilson, David Sloan & Ostrom, Elinor & Cox, Michael E., 2013. "Generalizing the core design principles for the efficacy of groups," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages S21-S32.
  5. John Gowdy & Lisi Krall, 2014. "Agriculture as a major evolutionary transition to human ultrasociality," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 179-202, July.
  6. David Wilson, 2014. "Cultural species and their ecosystems," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 31-38, April.
  7. Witt, Ulrich & Schwesinger, Georg, 2013. "Phylogenetic footprints in organizational behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages S33-S44.
  8. Wilson, James & Hill, J. & Kersula, M. & Wilson, C.L. & Whitsel, L. & Yan, L. & Acheson, J. & Chen, Y. & Cleaver, C. & Congdon, C. & Hayden, A. & Hayes, P. & Johnson, T. & Morehead, G. & Steneck, R. &, 2013. "Costly information and the evolution of self-organization in a small, complex economy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages S76-S93.
  9. Georg Schwesinger, 2013. "Natural and Economic Selection - Lessons from the Evo-Devo and Multilevel Selection Debate," Jena Economic Research Papers 2013-014, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.

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