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Can Darwinism Be "Generalized" and of What Use Would This Be?

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  • Georgy S. Levit
  • Uwe Hossfeld
  • Ulrich Witt

    ()

Abstract

It has been suggested that, by generalizing Darwinian principles, a common foundation can be derived for all scientific disciplines dealing with evolutionary processes, especially for evolutionary economics. In this paper we show, however, that the principles of such a "Generalized Darwinism" are not those that in the development of evolutionary biology have been crucial for distinguishing Darwinian from non-Darwinian approaches and, hence, cannot be considered genuinely Darwinian. Moreover, we wonder how "Generalized Darwinism" can be made fruitful for evolutionary economics given that its principles are but an abstract hull that does not suffice to explain actual evolutionary processes in the economy. To that end specific hypotheses are required which neither follow from, nor are necessarily compatible with, the suggested abstract principles. Accordingly, we find little evidence in the literature for the claim that Generalized Darwinism can enhance the explanatory power of an evolutionary approach to economics.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2010-07.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2010-07

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Keywords: Darwinism; evolution; evolutionary economics; Generalized Darwinism; variation; selection; retention Length 17 pages;

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References

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  1. Klepper, Steven, 1997. "Industry Life Cycles," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 145-81.
  2. Guido Buenstorf, 2006. "How useful is generalized Darwinism as a framework to study competition and industrial evolution?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 511-527, December.
  3. Christian Cordes, 2004. "Darwinism in Economics: From Analogy to Continuity," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2004-15, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
  4. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2002. "Darwinism in economics: from analogy to ontology," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 259-281.
  5. Ulrich Witt, 2008. "What is specific about evolutionary economics?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 18(5), pages 547-575, October.
  6. Metcalfe, John S. & Foster, John & Ramlogan, Ronnie, 2003. "Adaptive Economic Growth," Centre on Regulation and Competition (CRC) Working papers 30637, University of Manchester, Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM).
  7. Ulrich Witt, 2004. "On the proper interpretation of 'evolution' in economics and its implications for production theory," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 125-146.
  8. Richard Nelson, 2006. "Evolutionary social science and universal Darwinism," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 491-510, December.
  9. Hanusch,Horst (ed.), 2008. "Evolutionary Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521067072, October.
  10. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2009. "Agency, Institutions, and Darwinism in Evolutionary Economic Geography," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 85(2), pages 167-173, 04.
  11. J. W. Stoelhorst, 2008. "The explanatory logic and ontological commitments of generalized Darwinism," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(4), pages 343-363.
  12. Geoffrey Hodgson & Thorbjørn Knudsen, 2004. "The firm as an interactor: firms as vehicles for habits and routines," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 281-307, 07.
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Cited by:
  1. Viktor Vanberg, 2014. "Darwinian paradigm, cultural evolution and human purposes: on F.A. Hayek’s evolutionary view of the market," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 35-57, January.
  2. Hardy Hanappi, 2014. "Evolutionary Political Economy in Crisis Mode," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 234(2-3), pages 422-440, April.

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