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Can Darwinism be “Generalized” and of what use would this be?

  • Georgy Levit

    ()

  • Uwe Hossfeld

    ()

  • Ulrich Witt

    ()

It has been suggested that, by generalizing Darwinian principles, a common foundation can be derived for all scientific disciplines dealing with evolutionary processes, especially for evolutionary economics. In this paper we show, however, that the principles of such a "Generalized Darwinism" are not those that in the development of evolutionary biology have been crucial for distinguishing Darwinian from non-Darwinian approaches and, hence, cannot be considered genuinely Darwinian. Moreover, we wonder how "Generalized Darwinism" can be made fruitful for evolutionary economics given that its principles are but an abstract hull that does not suffice to explain actual evolutionary processes in the economy. To that end specific hypotheses are required which neither follow from, nor are necessarily compatible with, the suggested abstract principles. Accordingly, we find little evidence in the literature for the claim that Generalized Darwinism can enhance the explanatory power of an evolutionary approach to economics.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00191-011-0235-3
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Evolutionary Economics.

Volume (Year): 21 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 545-562

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Handle: RePEc:spr:joevec:v:21:y:2011:i:4:p:545-562
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  1. Geoffrey Hodgson & Thorbjørn Knudsen, 2004. "The firm as an interactor: firms as vehicles for habits and routines," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 281-307, 07.
  2. Metcalfe, John S. & Foster, John & Ramlogan, Ronnie, 2003. "Adaptive Economic Growth," Centre on Regulation and Competition (CRC) Working papers 30637, University of Manchester, Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM).
  3. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521067072 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Klepper, Steven, 1997. "Industry Life Cycles," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 145-81.
  5. Christian Cordes, 2006. "Darwinism in economics: from analogy to continuity," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 529-541, December.
  6. J. W. Stoelhorst, 2008. "The explanatory logic and ontological commitments of generalized Darwinism," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(4), pages 343-363.
  7. Guido Buenstorf, 2006. "How useful is generalized Darwinism as a framework to study competition and industrial evolution?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 511-527, December.
  8. Ulrich Witt, 2008. "What is specific about evolutionary economics?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 18(5), pages 547-575, October.
  9. Richard Nelson, 2006. "Evolutionary social science and universal Darwinism," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 491-510, December.
  10. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2002. "Darwinism in economics: from analogy to ontology," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 259-281.
  11. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2009. "Agency, Institutions, and Darwinism in Evolutionary Economic Geography," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 85(2), pages 167-173, 04.
  12. Ulrich Witt, 2004. "On the proper interpretation of 'evolution' in economics and its implications for production theory," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 125-146.
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