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Generalized Darwinism in Evolutionary Economics: The Devil is in the Details

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  • Jack Vromen
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    Abstract

    Hodgson and Knudsen want their version of Generalized Darwinism to meet two /desiderata. /First, their formulation of Darwinism should be sufficiently general and abstract, so that it only refers to general, domain-unspecific features that processes of biological and of socio-cultural evolution have in common with each other. Their formulation should leave out features of Darwinism that are specific to the biological domain only. Second, their version should be able to guide the development of theories that can causally explain processes of economic evolution. Hodgson and Knudsen argue that the latter – going from their abstract and general formulation of Darwinism to such full-fledged economic theories – is a matter of adding details that are specific to the economic domain. Both desiderata seem reasonable. Yet they pull in opposite directions. It is argued that in order to meet the first desideratum the formulation of Darwinism should be so general and abstract that it is bereft of any substance and content and, as such, of little use in guiding further theory development. If going from such a formulation to a full-fledged economic theory is called a matter of adding details, the devil surely is in the details.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2007-11.

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    Date of creation: Nov 2007
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    Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2007-11

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    Keywords: Length 26 pages;

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    1. Hodgson, Geoffrey M. & Knudsen, Thorbjorn, 2004. "The complex evolution of a simple traffic convention: the functions and implications of habit," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 19-47, May.
    2. Christian Cordes, 2004. "Darwinism in Economics: From Analogy to Continuity," Papers on Economics and Evolution, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography 2004-15, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    3. Ulrich Witt, 2006. "Evolutionary Economics," Papers on Economics and Evolution, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography 2006-05, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    4. Geoffrey Hodgson & Thorbjørn Knudsen, 2006. "Dismantling Lamarckism: why descriptions of socio-economic evolution as Lamarckian are misleading," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 343-366, October.
    5. Foster, John, 1997. "The analytical foundations of evolutionary economics: From biological analogy to economic self-organization," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 427-451, October.
    6. Jack Vromen, 2004. "Conjectural revisionary economic ontology: Outline of an ambitious research agenda for evolutionary economics," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 213-247.
    7. Matthias Klaes, 2004. "Ontological issues in evolutionary economics: Introduction," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 121-124.
    8. Hodgson, Geoffrey M. & Knudsen, Thorbjorn, 2006. "Why we need a generalized Darwinism, and why generalized Darwinism is not enough," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 1-19, September.
    9. Ulrich Witt, 1992. "Evolutionary Concepts in Economics," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 405-419, Fall.
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