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The Proper Interpretation of 'Evolution' in Economics and the Example of Production Theory


  • U. Witt


How relevant is the notion of evolution for economics? In view of the paradigmatic influence of Darwinian thought, several recently advocated interpretations are discussed first which rely on Darwinian concepts. As an alternative, a notion of evolution is suggested that is based on a few, abstract, common principles which all domain-specific evolutionary processes share, including those in the economy. A different, ontological question is whether and, if so, how the various domain-specific evolutionary processes are connected. As an answer, an evolutionary continuity hypothesis is postulated and its concrete economic implications are discussed exemplarily for the theory of production.

Suggested Citation

  • U. Witt, 2003. "The Proper Interpretation of 'Evolution' in Economics and the Example of Production Theory," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2003-05, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  • Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2003-05 Note: The paper will be emailed on request. Please contact

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Don Ross, 2007. "Economic Theory and Cognitive Science: Microexplanation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262681684, January.
    2. Ken Binmore, 1998. "Game Theory and the Social Contract - Vol. 2: Just Playing," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 2, number 0262024446, January.
    3. Ken Binmore, 1994. "Game Theory and the Social Contract, Volume 1: Playing Fair," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262023636, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ulrich Witt, 2007. "Firms as Realizations of Entrepreneurial Visions," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(7), pages 1125-1140, November.

    More about this item


    analogies; evolution; evolutionary economics; factors of production; increasing returns; knowledge; novelty; selection metaphor; sociobiology; Universal Darwinism; production theory;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • B25 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Austrian; Stockholm School
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • D20 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - General
    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes


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