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Can Darwinism Be "Generalized" and of What Use Would This Be?

Author

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  • Georgy S. Levit
  • Uwe Hossfeld
  • Ulrich Witt

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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Georgy S. Levit & Uwe Hossfeld & Ulrich Witt, 2010. "Can Darwinism Be "Generalized" and of What Use Would This Be?," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2010-07, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  • Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2010-07
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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, July.
    2. J. Stan Metcalfe & John Foster & Ronnie Ramlogan, 2006. "Adaptive economic growth," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(1), pages 7-32, January.
    3. Klepper, Steven, 1997. "Industry Life Cycles," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 145-181.
    4. 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.
    5. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2002. "Darwinism in economics: from analogy to ontology," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 259-281.
    6. Christian Cordes, 2006. "Darwinism in economics: from analogy to continuity," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 529-541, December.
    7. 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.
    8. Richard Nelson, 2006. "Evolutionary social science and universal Darwinism," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 491-510, December.
    9. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2009. "Agency, Institutions, and Darwinism in Evolutionary Economic Geography," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 85(2), pages 167-173, April.
    10. Ulrich Witt, 2008. "What is specific about evolutionary economics?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 18(5), pages 547-575, October.
    11. Hanusch,Horst (ed.), 2008. "Evolutionary Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521067072.
    12. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jan Schnellenbach, 2015. "Does classical liberalism imply an evolutionary approach to policy-making?," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 53-70, April.
    2. 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).
    3. Peter Hall & Robert Wylie, 2014. "Isolation and technological innovation," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 357-376, April.
    4. 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.
    5. Félix-Fernando Muñoz & María-Isabel Encinar, 2014. "Intentionality and the emergence of complexity: an analytical approach," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 317-334, April.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Darwinism; evolution; evolutionary economics; Generalized Darwinism; variation; selection; retention Length 17 pages;

    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

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