Economists on Darwin's theory of social evolution and human behaviour
The purpose of this article is to analyse the way economists interested in social and economic evolution cite, mention or refer to Darwin. We focus on the attitude of economists towards Darwin's theory of social evolution â€“ an issue he considered as central to his theory. We show that economists refer to and mention Darwin as a biologist and neglect or ignore his theory of social and cultural evolution. Three types of reference are identified: first, economists view and quote Darwin as having borrowed concepts from classical political economists, Malthus and Smith. Darwin is then mentioned to emphasize the existence of economic theories of social evolution. Second, economists refer to and cite Darwin from the perspective of the use of biological concepts in social sciences. Darwin's biological theories are then equated with those of Spencer. From these two perspectives, Darwin's theory of social evolution is ignored and Darwin considered as a biologist exclusively. Third, economists acknowledge the existence of Darwin's general (biological and social) theory of evolution. Darwin is then considered and quoted as a biologist and a social evolutionist.
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- Van R. Potter, 1962. "Bridge to the Future: The Concept of Human Progress," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(1), pages 1-8.
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