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Naturalizing institutions: Evolutionary principles and application on the case of money

  • Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten

In recent extensions of the Darwinian paradigm into economics, the replicator-interactor duality looms large. I propose a strictly naturalistic approach to this duality in the context of the theory of institutions, which means that its use is seen as being always and necessarily dependent on identifying a physical realization. I introduce a general framework for the analysis of institutions, which synthesizes Searle's and Aoki's theories, especially with regard to the role of public representations (signs) in the coordination of actions, and the function of cognitive processes that underly rule-following as a behavioral disposition. This allows to conceive institutions as causal circuits that connect the population-level dynamics of interactions with cognitive phenomena on the individual level. Those cognitive phenomena ultimately root in neuronal structures. So, I draw on a critical restatement of the concept of the meme by Aunger to propose a new conceptualization of the replicator in the context of institutions, namely, the replicator is a causal conjunction between signs and neuronal structures which undergirds the dispositions that generate rule-following actions. Signs, in turn, are outcomes of population-level interactions. I apply this framework on the case of money, analyzing the emotions that go along with the use of money, and presenting a stylized account of the emergence of money in terms of the naturalized Searle-Aoki model. In this view, money is a neuronally anchored metaphor for emotions relating with social exchange and reciprocity. Money as a meme is physically realized in a replicator which is a causal conjunction of money artefacts and money emotions.

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Paper provided by Frankfurt School of Finance and Management in its series Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series with number 182.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:fsfmwp:182
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