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Hobbes, Seabright, and our ancestors: institutionalist theory and the writing of evolutionary history


  • John F. Henry


Recently, a debate has ensued as to whether neoclassical economics has jettisoned its inward looking, reductionism of the past in favour of a more open evolutionary style, making it more compatible with institutional economics. Paul Seabright's, The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life claims to do precisely this and thus it is worthwhile to critically assess its efforts. Does it really represent a fundamental change or it is merely window dressing, serving up the same neoclassical analysis in slightly different form? This paper evaluates Seabright's claim from largely an (old) institutionalist perspective and finds that fundamentally The Company of Strangers fits quite comfortably within the confines of traditional neoclassicism; thus, no 'bridge' has been established which would allow a more fruitful interchange with 'old' institutionalism.

Suggested Citation

  • John F. Henry, 2014. "Hobbes, Seabright, and our ancestors: institutionalist theory and the writing of evolutionary history," International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 5(1), pages 6-23.
  • Handle: RePEc:ids:ijplur:v:5:y:2014:i:1:p:6-23

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