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Darwinism in Economics: From Analogy to Continuity

  • Christian Cordes


Currently there is an ongoing discussion about how Darwinian concepts should be harnessed to further develop economic theory. Two approaches to this question, Universal Darwinism and the continuity hypothesis, are presented in this paper. It is shown whether abstract principles can be derived from Darwin’s explanatory model of biological evolution that can be applied to cultural evolution. Furthermore, the relation of the ontological basis of biological and cultural evolution is clarified. Some examples illustrate the respective potential of the two approaches to serve as a starting-point for theory development.

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Paper provided by Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2004-15.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2004-15
Contact details of provider: Postal: Deutschhausstrasse 10, 35032 Marburg
Phone: 064212824257
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  1. Jack Vromen, 2004. "Conjectural revisionary economic ontology: Outline of an ambitious research agenda for evolutionary economics," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 213-247.
  2. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2002. "Darwinism in economics: from analogy to ontology," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 259-281.
  3. Ulrich Witt, 2006. "Evolutionary Economics," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2006-05, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  4. Witt, Ulrich, 2000. "Changing Cognitive Frames--Changing Organizational Forms: An Entrepreneurial Theory of Organizational Development," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(4), pages 733-55, December.
  5. Christian Cordes, 2004. "Veblen's "Instinct of Workmanship," its Cognitive Foundations, and Some Implications for Economic Theory," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2004-01, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  6. Sidney G. Winter, 1964. "Economic "Natural Selection" and the Theory of the Firm," LEM Chapters Series, in: Yale Economic Essays, pages 225-272 Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  7. V. J. Vanberg, 2004. "Human Intentionality and Design In Cultural Evolution," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2004-02, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  8. Ulrich Witt, 2004. "On Novelty and Heterogeneity," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2004-05, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  9. C. Cordes, 2003. "Long-term Tendencies in Technological Creativity - A Preference-based Approach," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2003-02, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  10. 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.
  11. Jack J. Vromen, 2001. "The Human Agent in Evolutionary Economics," Chapters, in: Darwinism and Evolutionary Economics, chapter 9 Edward Elgar.
  12. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2003. "The Mystery of the Routine. The Darwinian Destiny of An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 54(2), pages 355-384.
  13. Thorbj, rn Knudsen, 2002. "Economic selection theory," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 443-470.
  14. Boyd, Robert & Richerson, Peter J., 1980. "Sociobiology, culture and economic theory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 97-121, June.
  15. Hodgson, Geoffrey M. & Knudsen, Thorbjorn, 2006. "Why we need a generalized Darwinism, and why generalized Darwinism is not enough," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 1-19, September.
  16. Metcalfe, J S, 2001. "Institutions and Progress," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(3), pages 561-86, September.
  17. Christian Cordes, 2004. "The Human Adaptation for Culture and its Behavioral Implications," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 143-163, May.
  18. Armen A. Alchian, 1950. "Uncertainty, Evolution, and Economic Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 211.
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