Economic cosmology and the evolutionary challenge
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 are: (1) “natural man” as a rational, self-sufficient, egotistical individual, (2) competition among individuals can lead to a well-functioning society, and (3) there exists an ideal optimal state of nature. These correspond to Colander et al. (2004) “holy trinity of orthodox economics”, rationality, greed, and equilibrium. It is argued below that current breakthroughs in evolutionary biology and neuroscience can help economics go beyond these simple cosmologies.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
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.:
- Luigino Bruni & Robert Sugden, 2007. "The road not taken: how psychology was removed from economics, and how it might be brought back," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(516), pages 146-173, 01.
- Richard A. Miller, 2000. "Ten Cheaper Spades: Production Theory and Cost Curves in the Short Run," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(2), pages 119-130, June.
- Edgeworth, Francis Ysidro, 1881. "Mathematical Psychics," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number edgeworth1881.
- John M. Gowdy, 2003.
"The Revolution in Welfare Economics and its Implications for Environmental Valuation and Policy,"
Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics
0315, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics.
- John M. Gowdy, 2004. "The Revolution in Welfare Economics and Its Implications for Environmental Valuation and Policy," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 80(2), pages 239-257.
- Ulrich Witt, 2008.
"Symbolic Consumption and the Social Construction of Product Characteristics,"
Papers on Economics and Evolution
2008-15, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
- Witt, Ulrich, 2010. "Symbolic consumption and the social construction of product characteristics," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 17-25, March.
- Binmore, Ken & Shaked, Avner, 2010. "Experimental Economics: Where Next? Rejoinder," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 120-121, January.
- Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1987. "Diamonds Are a Government's Best Friend: Burden-Free Taxes on Goods Valued for Their Values," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 186-91, March.
- Gowdy, John M., 2004. "Altruism, evolution, and welfare economics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 69-73, January.
- Henrich, Joseph, 2004. "Cultural group selection, coevolutionary processes and large-scale cooperation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 3-35, January.
- U. Witt, 2003.
"'Production' in Nature and Production in the Economy - Second Thoughts about Some Basic Economic Concepts,"
Papers on Economics and Evolution
2003-01, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
- Witt, Ulrich, 2005. "'Production' in nature and production in the economy--second thoughts about some basic economic concepts," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 165-179, June.
- Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999.
"A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation,"
Munich Reprints in Economics
20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
- Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
- Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
- Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- David Colander & Ric Holt & Barkley Rosser, 2003.
"The Changing Face of Mainstream Economics,"
Middlebury College Working Paper Series
0327, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
- van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M. & Gowdy, John M., 2009. "A group selection perspective on economic behavior, institutions and organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 1-20, October.
- Veblen, Thorstein, 1898. "Why Economics is not an Evolutionary Science," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 12.
- Armen A. Alchian, 1950. "Uncertainty, Evolution, and Economic Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 211.
- Coase, R. H., 1995. "Essays on Economics and Economists," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226111032, October.
- Sidney G. Winter, 1964. "Economic "Natural Selection" and the Theory of the Firm," LEM Chapters Series, in: Yale Economic Essays, pages 225-272 Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
- Smith, Adam, 1776. "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number smith1776.
- Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
- Vernon L. Smith, 1998. "The Two Faces of Adam Smith," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 65(1), pages 2-19, July.
- Binmore, Ken & Shaked, Avner, 2010. "Experimental economics: Where next?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 87-100, January.
- Ulrich Witt, 2011. "The Dynamics of Consumer Behavior and the Transition to Sustainable Consumption Patterns," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2011-03, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
- Smith, Adam, 1759. "The Theory of Moral Sentiments," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number smith1759.
- Jevons, William Stanley, 1871. "The Theory of Political Economy," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number jevons1871.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:90:y:2013:i:s:p:s11-s20. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.