Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 35–57

Darwinian paradigm, cultural evolution and human purposes: on F.A. Hayek’s evolutionary view of the market

Regular Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00191-013-0305-9

Cite this article as:
Vanberg, V.J. J Evol Econ (2014) 24: 35. doi:10.1007/s00191-013-0305-9


The claim that the Darwinian paradigm of blind-variation-and-selective-retention can be generalized from the biological to the socio-cultural realm has often been questioned because of the critical role played by human purposeful design in the process of cultural evolution. In light of the issue of how human purposes and evolutionary forces interact in socio-economic processes the paper examines F.A. Hayek’s arguments on the “extended order” of the market (capitalism), in particular with regard to their policy implications. Its focus is on the tension that exists in Hayek’s work between a rational liberal and an agnostic evolutionary perspective. A re-construction of his arguments is suggested that allows for a reconciliation of these seemingly contradictory views.


Darwinian paradigm Cultural evolution Institutional design Liberalism 

JEL Classification

B25 B52 B53 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Walter Eucken InstitutFreiburgGermany

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