Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 479–513 | Cite as

“Generalized Darwinism” and the quest for an evolutionary theory of policy-making

  • Christian SchubertEmail author
Regular Article


According to the “Generalized Darwinism” movement (GD), the three principles of variation, selection and retention/replication (labeled “Darwinian” in some variants of GD) can and should be used as a meta-theoretical framework for the explanation of evolutionary processes in the sociocultural domain. Despite their biological origins, the various variants of GD aim at redefining these principles in a way that is supposed to abstract from any domain-specific particulars. We argue that in order to qualify as an adequate meta-theoretical framework for evolutionary economics, GD should not only inspire and guide positive theory development in evolutionary economics, but also be able to support viable practical policy implications. Examining its potential to do so, however, leads us to the conclusion that in its specific deductive variant proposed by Hodgson & Knudsen (HKGD), it risks systematically misguiding evolutionary policy advice. Competing variants, such as the one proposed by Pelikan, fare better in this regard.


Evolution Selection Darwinism Ontology Continuity hypothesis Evolutionary theory of policy-making 

JEL Classification

A1 B4 B52 D6 O1 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brandenburg University of TechnologyCottbusGermany

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