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Viktor J. Vanberg

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Viktor J. Vanberg

Friedrich Hayek’s recognition that group selection plays an important role in cultural evolution, understood as the propagation of practices or rules of conduct, relies on the idea of downward causation within a multi-level selection setting, which seems to conflict with his defense of methodological individualism. The chapter proposes an interpretation of Hayek’s thought that resolves this tension. Since the explanatory power of group selection hinges on the specification of a mechanism that translates group advantages into incentives for the required individual behavior, the question is how higher levels of selection impose constraints on lower levels of selection. At every level of social organization, constitutional choices that are shaped by external competition define the rules of internal competition, down to the level of individual actions. Upward causation, originating in individual actions, remains the ultimate driving force in the hierarchy of social organizational levels.

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Viktor J. Vanberg

This important research review discusses some of the most celebrated and classical literature in the field of choice and economic welfare. It analyses material exploring how economics as a scientific enterprise may inform political decision-making. A premise that is explored paradigmatically through different interpretations including utility-individualism in the context of welfare economics, preference-individualism in social choice theory, and choice-individualism in constitutional economics. The review covers the subject’s founding literature as well as the more contemporary pieces, which have sparked further discussion in the field. This review promises to be valuable to researchers and scholars alike as well as to those gravitating towards this fascinating topic.
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Viktor J. Vanberg

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Viktor J. Vanberg