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Why Economics Must be an Evolutionary Science

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  • Vicente Ferreira

Abstract

This paper addresses the evolution of evolutionary thought in economics as an alternative to the dominant static view of the economy. A short history of the earlier institutional approach, announced by Thorstein Veblen’s 1898 paper ‘Why is economics not an evolutionary science?’, is presented alongside a discussion of its key methodological and philosophical aspects. Veblen’s critiques of neoclassical economics are also discussed. Then the role of evolutionary concepts in economics throughout the twentieth century is analysed, from later institutionalists to recent complexity and chaos theories. It is argued complexity approaches are developed in line with Veblen’s institutional theory, and may be incorporated in an evolutionary theoretical framework which constitutes a necessary alternative to the neoclassical paradigm, as it better describes and studies real-world socio-economic phenomena.

Suggested Citation

  • Vicente Ferreira, 2019. "Why Economics Must be an Evolutionary Science," Working Papers Department of Economics 2019/01, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
  • Handle: RePEc:ise:isegwp:wp012019
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thorstein Veblen, 1909. "The Limitations of Marginal Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17, pages 620-620.
    2. Malcolm Rutherford, 2001. "Institutional Economics: Then and Now," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 173-194, Summer.
    3. G. Hodgson., 2007. "What Are Institutions?," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 8.
    4. Veblen, Thorstein, 1909. "The Limitations of Marginal Utility," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 17.
    5. Marc Lavoie, 1992. "Foundations of Post-Keynesian Economic Analysis," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 275, April.
    6. Bögenhold, Dieter & Michaelides, Panayotis G. & Papageorgiou, Theofanis, 2016. "Schumpeter, Veblen and Bourdieu on Institutions and the Formation of Habits," MPRA Paper 74585, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Malcolm Rutherford, 2000. "Institutionalism Between the Wars," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(2), pages 291-303, June.
    8. Mirowski, Philip, 1984. "Physics and the 'Marginalist Revolution.'," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(4), pages 361-379, December.
    9. Veblen, Thorstein, 1898. "The Instinct of Workmanship and the Irksomeness of Labor," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 4.
    10. J. Barkley Rosser, 1999. "On the Complexities of Complex Economic Dynamics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 169-192, Fall.
    11. Hodgson, Geoffrey M, 1998. "On the Evolution of Thorstein Veblen's Evolutionary Economics," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(4), pages 415-431, July.
    12. Malcolm Rutherford, 1984. "Thorstein Veblen and the Processes of Institutional Change," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 16(3), pages 331-348, Fall.
    13. Geoffrey Hodgson, 2010. "Choice, habit and evolution," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 1-18, January.
    14. J. Maurice Clark, 1917. "Business Acceleration and the Law of Demand: A Technical Factor in Economic Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 217-217.
    15. Thorstein Veblen, 1898. "Why is Economics Not an Evolutionary Science?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(4), pages 373-397.
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