Darwin's Conjecture: The Search for General Principles of Social and Economic Evolution

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University of Chicago Press, Dec 1, 2010 - Business & Economics - 290 pages
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Of paramount importance to the natural sciences, the principles of Darwinism, which involve variation, inheritance, and selection, are increasingly of interest to social scientists as well. But no one has provided a truly rigorous account of how the principles apply to the evolution of human society—until now.

In Darwin’s Conjecture, Geoffrey Hodgson and Thorbjørn Knudsen reveal how the British naturalist’s core concepts apply to a wide range of phenomena, including business practices, legal systems, technology, and even science itself. They also critique some prominent objections to applying Darwin to social science, arguing that ultimately Darwinism functions as a general theoretical framework for stimulating further inquiry. Social scientists who adopt a Darwinian approach, they contend, can then use it to frame and help develop new explanatory theories and predictive models.

This truly pathbreaking work at long last makes the powerful conceptual tools of Darwin available to the social sciences and will be welcomed by scholars and students from a range of disciplines.

  

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Contents

The Challenge of Darwinism for the Social Sciences
1
2 Generalizing Darwinism
30
3 Rivals and Rebuttals
47
4 The Lamarckian Confusion
61
5 The Principle of Selection and Its Application to Social Evolution
89
6 Information Complexity and Generative Replication
112
7 From Group Selection to Organizational Interactors
151
8 Major Information Transitions in Social Evolution
180
9 Conclusions and Agenda for Future Research
222
Glossary
237
References
243
Index
277
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About the author (2010)

Geoffrey M. Hodgson is research professor in business studies at the University of Hertfordshire, England, and the author of over a dozen books, including The Evolution of Institutional Economics and How Economics Forgot History. Thorbjørn Knudsen is professor of organization design at the University of Southern Denmark and has an extensive publication record specializing in evolutionary dynamics and adaptive organizations.

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