Advertisement

Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 577–596 | Cite as

In defence of generalized Darwinism

  • Howard E. Aldrich
  • Geoffrey M. Hodgson
  • David L. Hull
  • Thorbjørn Knudsen
  • Joel Mokyr
  • Viktor J. Vanberg
Regular Article

Abstract

Darwin himself suggested the idea of generalizing the core Darwinian principles to cover the evolution of social entities. Also in the nineteenth century, influential social scientists proposed their extension to political society and economic institutions. Nevertheless, misunderstanding and misrepresentation have hindered the realization of the powerful potential in this longstanding idea. Some critics confuse generalization with analogy. Others mistakenly presume that generalizing Darwinism necessarily involves biological reductionism. This essay outlines the types of phenomena to which a generalized Darwinism applies, and upholds that there is no reason to exclude social or economic entities.

Keywords

Socio-economic evolution Generalized Darwinism Selection Replication 

JEL Classification

B52 

References

  1. Aldrich HE, Ruef M (2006) Organizations evolving, 2nd edn. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Amable B (2000) Institutional complementarity and diversity of social systems of innovation and production. Rev Int Polit Econ 7(4):645–687CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aoki M (2001) Toward a comparative institutional analysis. MIT, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  4. Atran S (2001) The trouble with memes: inference versus imitation in cultural creation. Human Nat 12(4):351–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Atran S (2002) In Gods we trust: the evolutionary landscape of religion. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  6. Bagehot W (1872) Physics and politics, or, thoughts on the application of the principles of ‘natural selection’ and ‘inheritance’ to political society. Henry King, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Bannister RC (1979) Social Darwinism; science and myth in Anglo-American social thought. Temple University Press, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  8. Boyer P (1994) The naturalness of religious ideas. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  9. Boyer P (1999) Cognitive tracks of cultural inheritance: how evolved intuitive ontology governs cultural transmission. Amer Anthropol 100(4):876–889CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Boyer R (2005) Coherence, diversity, and the evolution of capitalisms—the institutional complementarity hypothesis. Evol Inst Econ Rev 2(1):43–80Google Scholar
  11. Buenstorf G (2006) How useful is generalized Darwinism as a framework to study competition and industrial evolution? J Evol Econ 16(5):511–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Camazine S, Deneubourg J-L, Franks NR, Sneyd J, Theraulaz G, Bonabeau E (2001) Self-organization in biological systems. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  13. Campbell DT (1965) Variation, selection and retention in sociocultural evolution. In: Barringer HR, Blanksten GI, Mack RW (eds) Social change in developing areas: a reinterpretation of evolutionary theory. Schenkman, Cambridge, MA, pp 19–49Google Scholar
  14. Childe VG (1951) Social evolution. Watts, LondonGoogle Scholar
  15. Collins R (1988) Theoretical sociology. Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, San Diego, CAGoogle Scholar
  16. Commons JR (1934) Institutional economics—its place in political economy. The University of Wisconsin Press, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  17. Cordes C (2006) Darwinism in economics: from analogy to continuity. J Evol Econ 16(5):529–541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Darwin CR (1859) On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. Murray, LondonGoogle Scholar
  19. Darwin CR (1871) The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex, 1st edn, 2 vols. Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Darwin CR (1974) Metaphysics, materialism, and the evolution of mind: early writings of Charles Darwin, transcribed and annotated by Paul H. Barrett with a commentary by Howard E. Gruber. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  21. Dawkins R (1976) The selfish gene. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  22. Dawkins R (1983) Universal Darwinism. In: Bendall DS (ed) (1983) Evolution from molecules to man. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 403–425Google Scholar
  23. Degler CN (1991) In search of human nature: the decline and revival of Darwinism in American social thought. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  24. Dennett DC (1995) Darwin’s dangerous idea: evolution and the meanings of life. Allen Lane, LondonGoogle Scholar
  25. Dewey J (1910) The influence of Darwin on philosophy and other essays in contemporary philosophy. Holt, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  26. Edelman GM (1987) Neural Darwinism: the theory of neuronal group selection. Basic Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  27. Eldredge N, Gould SJ (1977) Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered. Paleobiology 3:115–51Google Scholar
  28. Gersick CJG (1991) Revolutionary change theories: a multilevel exploration of the punctuated equilibrium paradigm. Acad Manage Rev 16(1):10–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Godfrey-Smith P (2000) The replicator in retrospect. Biol Soc 15:403–423Google Scholar
  30. Godfrey-Smith P (2007) Information in biology. In: Hull DL, Ruse M (eds) The Cambridge companion to the philosophy of biology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 103–119Google Scholar
  31. Gould SJ (2002) The structure of evolutionary theory. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  32. Gowdy JM (1993) The implications of punctuated equilibria for economic theory and policy. Methodus 5(1):111–113Google Scholar
  33. Griffiths PE (2001) Genetic information: a metaphor in search of a theory. Philos Sci 68(3):394–412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hall PA, Soskice D (2001) Varieties of capitalism: the institutional foundations of comparative advantage. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  35. Hannan MT, Freeman J (1989) Organizational ecology. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  36. Hayek FA (1988) The fatal conceit: the errors of socialism. The collected works of Friedrich August Hayek, vol I. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  37. Henrich J, Boyd R (2002) On modeling cognition and culture—why cultural evolution does not require replication of representations. Journal of Cognition and Culture 2(2):87–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hodgson GM (1993) Economics and evolution: bringing life back into economics. Polity, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  39. Hodgson GM (2004a) The evolution of institutional economics: agency, structure and Darwinism in American institutionalism. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  40. Hodgson GM (2004b) Social Darwinism in anglophone academic journals: a contribution to the history of the term. J Hist Sociol 17(4):428–463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hodgson GM, Knudsen T (2004a) The complex evolution of a simple traffic convention: the functions and implications of habit. J Econ Behav Organ 54(1):19–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Hodgson GM, Knudsen T (2004b) The firm as an interactor: firms as vehicles for habits and routines. J Evol Econ 14(3):281–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Hodgson GM, Knudsen T (2006a) Why we need a generalized Darwinism: and why a generalized Darwinism is not enough. J Econ Behav Organ 61(1):1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Hodgson GM, Knudsen T (2006b) Dismantling Lamarckism: why descriptions of socio-economic evolution as Lamarckian are misleading. J Evol Econ 16(4):343–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Hodgson GM, Knudsen T (2006c) The nature and units of social selection. J Evol Econ 16(5):477–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Hodgson GM, Knudsen T (2008) Information, complexity and generative replication. Biol Philos 43(1):47–65Google Scholar
  47. Holland JH (1995) Hidden order: how adaptation builds complexity. Helix Books, ReadingGoogle Scholar
  48. Hull DL (1982) The naked meme. In: Plotkin HC (ed) Learning, development and culture: essays in evolutionary epistemology. Wiley, New York, pp 273–327Google Scholar
  49. Hull DL (1988) Science as a process: an evolutionary account of the social and conceptual development of science. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  50. Hull DL, Langman RE, Glenn SS (2001) A general account of selection: biology, immunology and behavior. Behav Brain Sci 24(3):511–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. James W (1890) The principles of psychology, 2 vols, 1st edn. Holt, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  52. Kauffman SA (1993) The origins of order: self-organization and selection in evolution. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  53. Keller AG (1915) Societal evolution: a study of the evolutionary basis of the science of society. Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  54. Kenworthy L (2006) Institutional coherence and macroeconomic performance. Socio-Econ Rev 4(1):69–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Krasner S (1988) Sovereignty. Comp Polit Stud 21:64–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. March JG, Simon HA (1958) Organizations. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  57. Maynard Smith J (2000a) The concept of information in biology. Philos Sci 67(2):177–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Maynard Smith J (2000b) Reply to commentaries. Philos Sci 67(2):214–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Mayr E (1976) Evolution and the diversity of life. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  60. Mayr E (1985) How biology differs from the physical sciences. In: Depew DJ, Weber BH (eds) Evolution at a crossroads: the new biology and the new philosophy of science. MIT, Cambridge, MA, pp 43–63Google Scholar
  61. Mayr E (1988) Toward a new philosophy of biology: observations of an evolutionist. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  62. Mayr E (1991) One long argument: Charles Darwin and the genesis of modern evolutionary thought. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  63. Metcalfe JS (1998) Evolutionary economics and creative destruction. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  64. Miller D, Friesen PH (1980) Momentum and revolution in organizational adaptation. Acad Manage J 23:591–614CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Mokyr J (1990) Punctuated equilibria and technological progress. Am Econ Rev (Papers and Proceedings) 80(2):350–354Google Scholar
  66. Mokyr J (1996) Evolution and technological change: a new metaphor for economic history? In: Fox R (ed) Technological change. Harwood, London, pp 63–83Google Scholar
  67. Mokyr J (2006) Useful knowledge as an evolving system: the view from economic history. In: Blume LE, Durlauf SN (eds) The economy as an evolving complex system, vol iii: current perspectives and future directions. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 307–337Google Scholar
  68. Nelson RR (1991) Why do firms differ, and how does it matter? Strateg Manage J 12:61–74 (Special issue, Winter)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Nelson RR (1995) Recent evolutionary theorizing about economic change. J Econ Lit 33(1):48–90Google Scholar
  70. Nelson RR (2007) Universal Darwinism and evolutionary social science. Biol Philos 22(1):73–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Nelson RR, Winter SG (1982) An evolutionary theory of economic change. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  72. Price GR (1970) Selection and covariance. Nature 227:520–521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Price GR (1995) The nature of selection. J Theor Biol 175:389–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Prusiner SB (1998) Prions. Proc Natl Acad Sci 95:13363–13383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Richards RJ (1987) Darwin and the emergence of evolutionary theories of mind and behavior. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  76. Ritchie DG (1896) Social evolution. Int J Ethics 6(2):165–181Google Scholar
  77. Rose S (1997) Lifelines: biology, freedom, determinism. Allen Lane, LondonGoogle Scholar
  78. Saviotti PP (1996) Technological evolution, variety and the economy. Edward Elgar, AldershotGoogle Scholar
  79. Segerstråle U (2000) Defenders of the truth: the sociobiology debate. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  80. Simon HA (1957) Models of man: social and rational. Mathematical essays on rational human behavior in a social setting. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  81. Somit A, Peterson SA (1992) The dynamics of evolution: the punctuated equilibrium debate in the natural and the social sciences. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NYGoogle Scholar
  82. Sperber D (1996) Explaining culture: a naturalistic approach. Basil Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  83. Sperber D (2000) An objection to the memetic approach to culture. In: Aunger R (ed) Darwinizing culture: the status of memetics as a science. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 162–173Google Scholar
  84. Sterelny K, Smith KC, Dickison M (1996) The extended replicator. Biol Philos 11:377–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Szathmáry E (2000) The evolution of replicators. Philos Trans Biol Sci 355(1403):1669–1676CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Tushman ML, Romanelli E (1985) Organizational evolution: a metamorphosis model of convergence and reorientation. Res Organ Behav 7:171–222Google Scholar
  87. Vanberg VJ (1994) Cultural evolution, collective learning and constitutional design. In: Reisman D (ed) Economic thought and political theory. Kluwer, Boston, pp 171–204Google Scholar
  88. Vanberg VJ (1997) Institutional evolution through purposeful selection: the constitutional economics of John R. Commons. Const Polit Econ 8:105–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Vanberg VJ (2002) Rational choice versus program-based behavior: alternative theoretical approaches and their relevance for the study of institutions. Ration Soc 14(1):7–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Vanberg VJ (2004) The rationality postulate in economics: its ambiguity, its deficiency and its evolutionary alternative. J Econ Methodol 11(1):1–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Vanberg VJ (2006) Human intentionality and design in cultural evolution. In: Schubert C, von Wangenheim G (eds) Evolution and design of institutions. Routledge, London, pp 197–212Google Scholar
  92. Veblen TB (1899) The theory of the leisure class: an economic study in the evolution of institutions. Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  93. Veblen TB (1914) The instinct of workmanship, and the state of the industrial arts. Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  94. von Neumann J (1966) Theory of self-reproducing automata (edited and completed by Arthur W. Burks). University of Illinois Press, UrbanaGoogle Scholar
  95. Witt U (2003) The evolving economy: essays on the evolutionary approach to economics. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UKGoogle Scholar
  96. Witt U (2004) On the proper interpretations of “evolution” in economics and its implications for production theory. J Econ Methodol 11(2):125–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Witt U (2006) Evolutionary concepts in economics and biology. J Evol Econ 16(5):473–476CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howard E. Aldrich
    • 1
  • Geoffrey M. Hodgson
    • 2
  • David L. Hull
    • 3
  • Thorbjørn Knudsen
    • 4
  • Joel Mokyr
    • 3
  • Viktor J. Vanberg
    • 5
  1. 1.University of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.The Business SchoolUniversity of HertfordshireHertfordshireUK
  3. 3.Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  4. 4.University of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark
  5. 5.University of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

Personalised recommendations