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Evolutionary metaphors and the justification of economic efficiency

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  • Marina Bianchi

    (Department of Economics and Environment, University of Cassino, Italy)

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    Abstract

    The selection principle of evolutionary biology seems to save the economist from having to specify all the complexities of individual optimizing choices. But concentrating exclusively on the outcomes of evolutionary processes as efficient states does not carry us very far. Either the achievement of efficiency has to be restated using the individual optimization rule, which deprives the evolutionary process of any special explanatory role; or, given that optimization provides insufficient guidance in a world of uncertainty, then it remains unclear just how the efficient social outcome is obtained. The alternative proposed and illustrated here is to break the link between selection and efficiency and to enlarge the sense of efficiency to include innovation and learning.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Finnish Economic Association in its journal Finnish Economic Papers.

    Volume (Year): 7 (1994)
    Issue (Month): 1 (Spring)
    Pages: 17-29

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    Handle: RePEc:fep:journl:v:7:y:1994:i:1:p:17-29

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    1. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
    2. Selten, Reinhard, 1991. "Evolution, learning, and economic behavior," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 3-24, February.
    3. Sidney G. Winter, 1964. "Economic "Natural Selection" and the Theory of the Firm," LEM Chapters Series, in: Yale Economic Essays, pages 225-272 Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    4. Witt, Ulrich, 1986. "Evolution and Stability of Cooperation without Enforceable Contracts," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(2), pages 245-66.
    5. Fenoaltea, Stefano, 1975. "Authority, Efficiency, and Agricultural Organization in Medieval England and Beyond: A Hypothesis," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 35(04), pages 693-718, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Martti Vihanto, 1998. "Using Psychology to Reinforce the Austrian Argument for Freedom: The Case of Loan Decisions," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 303-321, December.

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