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Economic Cosmology and the Evolutionary Challenge

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  • John M. Gowdy
  • Denise E. Dollimore
  • David Sloan Wilson
  • Ulrich Witt

Abstract

The intellectual histories of economics and evolutionary biology are closely intertwined because both subjects deal with living, complex, evolving systems. Because the subject matter is similar, contemporary evolutionary thought has much to offer to economics. In recent decades theoretical biology has progressed faster than economics in understanding phenomena like hierarchical processes, cooperative behavior, and selection processes in evolutionary change. This paper discusses three very old "cosmologies" in Western thought, how these play out in economic theory, and how evolutionary biology can help evaluate their validity and policy relevance. These cosmologies, as manifested in economic theory are, (1) rational economic man, (2) the invisible hand of the market, and (3) the existence of a general competitive equilibrium. It is argued below that current breakthroughs in evolutionary biology and neuroscience can help economics go beyond these simple cosmologies.

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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 2012-12.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: 12 Jun 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2012-12

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Manapat, Michael L. & Nowak, Martin A. & Rand, David G., 2013. "Information, irrationality, and the evolution of trust," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages S57-S75.
  2. Gowdy, John & Krall, Lisi, 2013. "The ultrasocial origin of the Anthropocene," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 137-147.
  3. Biglan, Anthony & Cody, Christine, 2013. "Integrating the human sciences to evolve effective policies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages S152-S162.
  4. Johnson, Dominic D.P. & Price, Michael E. & Van Vugt, Mark, 2013. "Darwin's invisible hand: Market competition, evolution and the firm," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages S128-S140.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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