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Evolution as a general theoretical framework for economics and public policy

Author

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  • Wilson, David Sloan
  • Gowdy, John M.

Abstract

Economic and evolutionary thinking have been entwined throughout their histories, but evolutionary theory does not function as a general theoretical framework for economics and public policy, as it does for the biological sciences. In this lead article for a special issue of the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, we first describe how evolution functions as a general theoretical framework in the biological sciences. Then we consider four reasons why evolution might not need to be consulted for human-related subjects such as economics and public policy. We conclude that these reasons can be valid in particular cases, but they fail for any sizeable human-related subject area. Hence evolution can and should become a general theoretical framework for economics and public policy. The other articles in the special issue help to substantiate this claim.

Suggested Citation

  • Wilson, David Sloan & Gowdy, John M., 2013. "Evolution as a general theoretical framework for economics and public policy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages 3-10.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:90:y:2013:i:s:p:s3-s10
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2012.12.008
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Geoffrey Hodgson, 2007. "Taxonomizing the Relationship Between Biology and Economics: A Very Long Engagement," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 169-185, August.
    2. Jeroen C. J. M. van den Bergh & John M. Gowdy, 2003. "The microfoundations of macroeconomics: an evolutionary perspective," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(1), pages 65-84, January.
    3. 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.
    4. Ulrich Witt, 2008. "What is specific about evolutionary economics?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 18(5), pages 547-575, October.
    5. Leonard, Thomas C., 2009. "Origins of the myth of social Darwinism: The ambiguous legacy of Richard Hofstadter's Social Darwinism in American Thought," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 37-51, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:ejw:journl:v:12:y:2015:i:2:p:137-141 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Enrique Delamonica, 2016. "Transformational Growth and Poverty: An Evolutionary Approach for Inter-Country and Inter-Temporal Comparisons of Poverty Incidence," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 11(2), pages 387-411, June.
    3. Ladley, Daniel & Wilkinson, Ian & Young, Louise, 2015. "The impact of individual versus group rewards on work group performance and cooperation: A computational social science approach," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 68(11), pages 2412-2425.
    4. Georg Schwesinger, 2013. "Natural and Economic Selection - Lessons from the Evo-Devo and Multilevel Selection Debate," Jena Economic Research Papers 2013-014, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    5. Wohlrabe, Klaus & Bornmann, Lutz, 2017. "Normalization of citation impact in economics," MPRA Paper 80384, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. John Gowdy & Lisi Krall, 2014. "Agriculture as a major evolutionary transition to human ultrasociality," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 179-202, July.
    7. Ulrich Witt, 2013. "The Future of Evolutionary Economics: Why Modalities Matter," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2013-09, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    8. repec:spr:joevec:v:27:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s00191-017-0525-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Russell Weaver, 2016. "Evolutionary Theory and Neighborhood Quality: A Multilevel Selection-inspired Approach to Studying Urban Property Conditions," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 11(2), pages 369-386, June.
    10. Witt, Ulrich & Schwesinger, Georg, 2013. "Phylogenetic footprints in organizational behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages 33-44.
    11. Grajzl, Peter & Murrell, Peter, 2016. "A Darwinian theory of institutional evolution two centuries before Darwin?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 131(PA), pages 346-372.
    12. Wood, Aaron D. & Mason, Charles F. & Finnoff, David, 2016. "OPEC, the Seven Sisters, and oil market dominance: An evolutionary game theory and agent-based modeling approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 132(PB), pages 66-78.
    13. Wilson, David Sloan & Ostrom, Elinor & Cox, Michael E., 2013. "Generalizing the core design principles for the efficacy of groups," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages 21-32.
    14. 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 76-93.
    15. David Wilson, 2014. "Cultural species and their ecosystems," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 31-38, April.
    16. Elsner, Wolfram, 2017. "Policy and State in Complexity Economics," EconStor Preprints 158766, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
    17. David Sloan Wilson, 2016. "Quality of Life from an Evolutionary Perspective," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 11(2), pages 331-342, June.
    18. Russell C. Weaver & Jason Knight, 2014. "Evolutionary Mismatch as a General Framework for Land Use Policy and Politics," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(2), pages 1-20, June.
    19. Stoelhorst, J.W. & Richerson, Peter J., 2013. "A naturalistic theory of economic organization," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages 45-56.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Adaptation; Economic history; Evolution; Public policy;

    JEL classification:

    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games

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