Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 595–605

Overqualified: generative replicators as Darwinian reproducers

Hodgson and Knudsen: Darwin’s Conjecture: the search for general principles of social and economic evolution. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2010
Book Review

DOI: 10.1007/s10539-011-9281-3

Cite this article as:
Gers, M. Biol Philos (2012) 27: 595. doi:10.1007/s10539-011-9281-3


Darwin’s Conjecture is a bold attempt to bring evolutionary explanation to the social sciences, particularly economics. The book outlines the history of Darwinian explanation in social science then puts forward a generalized replicator account of social evolution by natural selection. The authors identify habits and routines as examples of the generative replicators necessary in order that social evolution is Darwinian. This reviewer notes that the replicator approach limits the generality of this account and suggests that habits and routines might better be seen as members of a Darwinian population in the tradition of Godfrey-Smith’s (2009) generalized account of natural selection instead. Furthermore, the existence of levels of social evolution will constrain what evolution can occur low in the hierarchy.


DarwinismEconomicsEvolutionInteractorMajor transitionsNatural selectionReplicatorSocial science

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Victoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand