Evolutionary metaphors and the justification of economic efficiency
The selection principle of evolutionary biology seems to save the economist from having to specify all the complexities of individual optimizing choices. But concentrating exclusively on the outcomes of evolutionary processes as efficient states does not carry us very far. Either the achievement of efficiency has to be restated using the individual optimization rule, which deprives the evolutionary process of any special explanatory role; or, given that optimization provides insufficient guidance in a world of uncertainty, then it remains unclear just how the efficient social outcome is obtained. The alternative proposed and illustrated here is to break the link between selection and efficiency and to enlarge the sense of efficiency to include innovation and learning.
Volume (Year): 7 (1994)
Issue (Month): 1 (Spring)
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- 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.
- Selten, Reinhard, 1991.
"Evolution, learning, and economic behavior,"
Games and Economic Behavior,
Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 3-24, February.
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- Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
- Witt, Ulrich, 1986. "Evolution and Stability of Cooperation without Enforceable Contracts," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(2), pages 245-66.
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