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Optimisation and Evolution: Winter's Critique of Friedman Revisited


  • Hodgson, Geoffrey M


Milton Friedman's (1953) article remains an often-quoted defense of the maximization hypothesis but Sidney Winter's (1964) critique of Friedman is less well known. This paper examines critically both the natural selection argument invoked by Friedman and others and the main elements of Winter's critique in the light of recent development in evolutionary theory. Winter attempted to identify the circumstances in which the selection of maximizers could occur and these are elaborated critically. Finally, Winter's critique is extended by considering the very meaning of rational or maximizing behavior. It is argued that the answer to this is neither obvious nor straightforward in an evolutionary context. Copyright 1994 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Hodgson, Geoffrey M, 1994. "Optimisation and Evolution: Winter's Critique of Friedman Revisited," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(4), pages 413-430, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:18:y:1994:i:4:p:413-30

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Clem Tisdell, 2004. "Economic Competition and Evolution: Are There Lessons from Ecology?," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 22(2), pages 179-193, April.
    2. Elias Khalil, 2000. "Survival of the Most Foolish of Fools: The Limits of Evolutionary Selection Theory," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 203-220, October.
    3. Frank, Joshua, 2003. "Natural selection, rational economic behavior, and alternative outcomes of the evolutionary process," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 601-622, December.
    4. van den Bergh, Jeroen C. J. M. & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada & Munda, Giuseppe, 2000. "Alternative models of individual behaviour and implications for environmental policy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 43-61, January.
    5. ., 2013. "Competition, diversity, evolution and sustainability: are there lessons from ecology?," Chapters,in: Competition, Diversity and Economic Performance, chapter 7, pages 132-159 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh & Ada Ferrer-I-Carbonell & Guiseppe Munda, 1998. "Models of Individual Behavior and Implications for Environmental Policy," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 98-121/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    7. Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 2002. "Evolutionary Theorizing in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 23-46, Spring.
    8. Khalil, Elias L., 1998. "The five careers of the biological metaphor in economic theory," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 29-52.
    9. Stephen Dunn, 2000. "Fundamental Uncertainty and the Firm in the Long Run," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(4), pages 419-433.
    10. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2013. "Dr Blaug's diagnosis: is economics sick?," Chapters,in: Mark Blaug: Rebel with Many Causes, chapter 8, pages 78-97 Edward Elgar Publishing.

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