Economics and Evolution: Bringing Life Back Into Economics

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University of Michigan Press, 1993 - Business & Economics - 381 pages
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Economic theory is currently at a crossroads, where many leading mainstream economists are calling for a more realistic and practical orientation for economic science. Indeed, many are suggesting that economics should be reconstructed on evolutionary lines.
This book is about the application to economics of evolutionary ideas from biology. It is not about selfish genes or determination of our behavior by genetic code. The idea that evolution supports a laissez-faire policy is rebutted. The conception of evolution as progress toward greater perfection, along with the competitive individualism sometimes inferred from the notion of the "survival of the fittest," is found to be problematic. Hodgson explores the ambiguities inherent in biology and the problems involved in applying ideas of past economic thinkers--including Malthus, Smith, Marx, Marshall, Veblen, Schumpeter, and Hayek--and argues that the new evolutionary economics can learn much from the many differing conceptions of economic evolution.
"This is a work of enormous perceptivity and subtlety as well as judiciousness of interpretation and critique . . . [that] establish[es] Hodgson as the leading institutional theorist, and as one of the leading evolutionary theorists, of his generation." --Warren J. Samuels
"A daring and successful attempt to expunge the monopoly of reductionist and mechanistic thinking over evolutionary theory . . . a must for anyone who is interested not only in the foundations of economics, but also in the foundations of social theory." --Elias L. Khalil, Ohio State University
Geoffrey M. Hodgson is University Lecturer in Economics, Judge Institute for Management Studies, University of Cambridge.
 

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Contents

A Brief Diagnosis
3
On Mechanistic and Biological Metaphors
18
A Preliminary Taxonomy
37
Evolution in Economics? From Mandeville
53
Karl Marx and Frederick
73
The Lost Satellite
80
The Mecca of Alfred Marshall
99
Carl Menger and the Evolution of Money
109
The Evolution of Friedrich Hayek
152
Friedrich Hayek and Spontaneous Order
170
Towards an Evolutionary Economics
195
Evolution Indeterminacy and Intention
214
The Problem of Reductionism in Biology
234
Bringing Life Back into Economics
252
Notes
268
Bibliography
303

Evolution in Economics? Three Twentieth
121
Joseph Schumpeter and the Evolutionary Process
139

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