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Rationality, Evolution, and Acquisitiveness


  • Demsetz, Harold


The first part of this paper discusses Armen Alchian's classic 1950 article 'Uncertainty, Evolution, and Economic Theory' and argues against the notion that it is easy to eliminate rationality from economic behavior by appealing to evolution as a substitute. The second section discusses rationality and develops a specific meaning for this term that distinguishes it from the axioms of choice found in economic theory. In the final section, the author uses this definition and links rationality to a behavioral propensity almost unique to the human species--acquisitiveness--and concludes from this linkage that acquisitiveness can speed up the evolution of intelligence. Copyright 1996 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Demsetz, Harold, 1996. "Rationality, Evolution, and Acquisitiveness," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(3), pages 484-495, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:34:y:1996:i:3:p:484-95

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Dequech, David, 2006. "The new institutional economics and the theory of behaviour under uncertainty," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 109-131, January.
    3. Hickson, Charles, 1998. "A review of evolutionary economics," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 801-810, May.

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