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Evolutionary Economic Thought

European Contributions and Concepts

Edited by Jürgen G. Backhaus

Evolutionary Economic Thought explores the theoretical roots of the evolutionary approach, and in so doing, demonstrates how it fits squarely into the theoretical mainstream. Focusing on the institutions of evolutionary change and the processes – such as competition – that generate change, this book takes account of important European contributions to the discipline, hitherto overshadowed by the American paradigm. As such, the book serves to broaden the current discourse. Whilst evolutionary economics itself is a well-researched and widely documented field, this book will be credited with establishing a history of evolutionary economic thought.
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Chapter 8: The evolution of the economic principle and motive towards a creative homo agens

Hans Maks


Hans Maks INTRODUCTION The more or less received opinion equates neoclassical insights with those of Chicago School economists of the last half of the twentieth century. This equation, of course is a very dubious one. It is even to a large extent untenable. The neoclassical revolution as a reaction on the classical school around the 1860s has a much broader scope than Chicago. The development within neoclassical economics lead to a philosophy of the economic science that stands clearly in contradiction with Chicago with its essentially perfect rationality and its narrow economic motive. In evolutionary economics the agents are bounded rational. In this paper the development of apriorism, the mainstream philosophy of economic science, towards bounded rationality is sketched. An essential element of apriorism is the idea that the economist should always start his or her analysis from a core of assumptions, in which he or she can have great confidence. The mainstream philosophy of economic science, at least until the 1950s, is apriorism, especially empirical apriorism. A great number of economists, when writing about their philosophy of science, reveal ideas which are related to those of the classical author John Stuart Mill, the Neo-Classical and Austrian author Carl Menger and neoclassicist Lionel R. Robbins and the Austrian Ludwig von Mises. This applies, for example, to Senior, Cairnes, Dietzel, J.M. Keynes, Schumpeter and Nelson and Winter. In my seventh section this point is further developed. Therefore, to understand apriorism it is useful to give a fairly extensive and precise sketch...

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