Economists on Darwin's theory of social evolution and human behaviour
AbstractThe purpose of this article is to analyse the way economists interested in social and economic evolution cite, mention or refer to Darwin. We focus on the attitude of economists towards Darwin's theory of social evolution â€“ an issue he considered as central to his theory. We show that economists refer to and mention Darwin as a biologist and neglect or ignore his theory of social and cultural evolution. Three types of reference are identified: first, economists view and quote Darwin as having borrowed concepts from classical political economists, Malthus and Smith. Darwin is then mentioned to emphasize the existence of economic theories of social evolution. Second, economists refer to and cite Darwin from the perspective of the use of biological concepts in social sciences. Darwin's biological theories are then equated with those of Spencer. From these two perspectives, Darwin's theory of social evolution is ignored and Darwin considered as a biologist exclusively. Third, economists acknowledge the existence of Darwin's general (biological and social) theory of evolution. Darwin is then considered and quoted as a biologist and a social evolutionist.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2005-21.
Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2006
Date of revision:
Other versions of this item:
- Alain Marciano, 2007. "Economists on Darwin's theory of social evolution and human behaviour," European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 681-700.
- A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
- B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Institutional; Evolutionary
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2006-01-24 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2006-01-24 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-CSE-2006-01-24 (Economics of Strategic Management)
- NEP-EVO-2006-01-24 (Evolutionary Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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