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Evolution as a general theoretical framework for economics and public policy

  • Wilson, David Sloan
  • Gowdy, John M.

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.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167268112002673
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 90 (2013)
Issue (Month): S ()
Pages: S3-S10

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:90:y:2013:i:s:p:s3-s10
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  1. 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.
  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. 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.
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