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

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  • Georgy Levit
  • Uwe Hossfeld
  • Ulrich Witt

Abstract

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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  • Georgy Levit & Uwe Hossfeld & Ulrich Witt, 2011. "Can Darwinism be “Generalized” and of what use would this be?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 21(4), pages 545-562, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:joevec:v:21:y:2011:i:4:p:545-562
    DOI: 10.1007/s00191-011-0235-3
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    Cited by:

    1. Spagano, Salvatore, 2021. "Generalized Darwinism: An Auxiliary Hypothesis," MPRA Paper 108829, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Kushal K. Reddy & Vipin P. Veetil, 2023. "Business cycles and the internal dynamics of firms," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 36(1), pages 43-60, March.
    3. Makriyannis, Christos, 2022. "The foundational economy-as-an-organism assumption of ecological economics: Is it scientifically useful?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 200(C).
    4. Jan Schnellenbach, 2015. "Does classical liberalism imply an evolutionary approach to policy-making?," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 53-70, April.
    5. Muñoz, Félix & Encinar, María Isabel & Fernández-de-Pinedo, Nadia, 2014. "Intentionality and technological and institutional change: Implications for economic development," Working Papers in Economic Theory 2014/04, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Department of Economic Analysis (Economic Theory and Economic History).
    6. Peter Hall & Robert Wylie, 2014. "Isolation and technological innovation," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 357-376, April.
    7. Félix-Fernando Muñoz & María-Isabel Encinar, 2015. "Intentionality and the Emergence of Complexity: An Analytical Approach," Economic Complexity and Evolution, in: Andreas Pyka & John Foster (ed.), The Evolution of Economic and Innovation Systems, edition 127, pages 171-190, Springer.
    8. Ron Martin & Peter Sunley, 2015. "Towards a Developmental Turn in Evolutionary Economic Geography?," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(5), pages 712-732, May.
    9. Pavel Pelikan, 2012. "Agreeing on generalized Darwinism: a response to Geoffrey Hodgson and Thorbjørn Knudsen," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 1-8, January.
    10. Christian Schubert, 2014. "“Generalized Darwinism” and the quest for an evolutionary theory of policy-making," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 479-513, July.
    11. Coccia, Mario, 2019. "The theory of technological parasitism for the measurement of the evolution of technology and technological forecasting," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 289-304.
    12. Viktor Vanberg, 2014. "Darwinian paradigm, cultural evolution and human purposes: on F.A. Hayek’s evolutionary view of the market," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 35-57, January.
    13. Victor Zitian Chen & John Cantwell, 2022. "An evolutionary view of institutional complexity," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 1071-1090, July.
    14. Hanappi Hardy, 2014. "Evolutionary Political Economy in Crisis Mode," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 234(2-3), pages 422-440, April.
    15. Jon Barrutia & Jon Mikel Zabala-Iturriagagoitia, 2018. "Towards an epigenetic understanding of evolutionary economics and evolutionary economic geography," Evolutionary and Institutional Economics Review, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 213-241, December.
    16. Abatecola, Gianpaolo & Breslin, Dermot & Kask, Johan, 2020. "Do organizations really co-evolve? Problematizing co-evolutionary change in management and organization studies," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 155(C).
    17. Georg Schwesinger, 2013. "Natural and Economic Selection - Lessons from the Evo-Devo and Multilevel Selection Debate," Jena Economics Research Papers 2013-014, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Darwinism; Evolution; Evolutionary economics; “Generalized Darwinism”; Variation; Selection; Retention; B25; B40; B52;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B25 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Austrian; Stockholm School
    • B40 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - General
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Modern Monetary Theory;

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