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The Relevance of Evolutionary Science For Economic Theory and Policy

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  • John M. Gowdy

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY 12180-3590, USA)

  • David Sloan Wilson

    (Department of Economics, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY 13903)

Abstract

NSF’s “Dear Colleague Letter” reflects the widely perceived need to go beyond current economic theory in the formulation of public policy. At the same time, there is a profound lack of unity among the disciplines that comprise the behavioral, social, and economic sciences. This white paper emphasizes the relevance of evolutionary science as a way to integrate the SBE sciences, similar to the integration that is more advanced in the biological sciences. Modern evolutionary science is broadly construed to include cultural in addition to biological evolution and the study of neural and psychological mechanisms (proximate causation) in addition to the environmental factors that brought the mechanisms into existence and result in the expression of specific behaviors (ultimate causation). It provides an exceptionally useful set of theoretical and empirical tools for integrating the many disciplines in the biological and SBE sciences required to formulate economic theory and public policy for the 21st century. The task of integration is already in progress and can be applied to the formulation of public policy without a long academic time lag. We therefore call for integration across disciplines and evolutionary science as an integrative framework to be recognized as a funding priority by NSF.

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Paper provided by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics in its series Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics with number 1007.

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Date of creation: Nov 2010
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Handle: RePEc:rpi:rpiwpe:1007

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