Darwinism and Evolutionary Economics
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Darwinism and Evolutionary Economics

Edited by John Laurent and John Nightingale

Darwinism and Evolutionary Economics brings together contributions from eminent authors who, building on Darwin’s own insights and on developments in evolutionary theory, offer challenging views on how economics can use evolutionary ideas effectively.
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Chapter 1: Darwinism and Evolutionary Economics

John Laurent and John Nightingale

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1. Darwinism and Evolutionary Economics John Laurent and John Nightingale Darwinism is now becoming an orthodoxy of modern thought, a framework within which a wide range of knowledge communities conduct their discourse. The initial idea for this volume emerged from a meeting of, on the one hand, an interest in the development of ideas in science, technology and economics, and on the other, a concern about the various dead ends into which economists have driven themselves over the past couple of centuries. John Laurent has a background in biological sciences and, more recently, in the study of science in society. He saw the growth of evolutionary ideas amongst economists as if economists were alerted to a need, and as a result, were rushing off in all directions with seemingly little concern to ensure consistency with existing knowledge, or even internal consistency. John Nightingale is an economist who came to evolutionary ideas from reading economics, only much later dipping into the more highly developed biological applications of those ideas. He, too, became concerned at the way ideas were being appropriated and manipulated to suit short-term fixes for problems of economic theory (see Nightingale, 2000). The explicit, if loose, use of a biological analogy in economics dates from well before Alfred Marshall (see Groenewegen, this volume). But Marshall’s use of it marked an ending, rather than a beginning, of the analogy in the mainstream of professional economic discourse during the next half century.1 Alchian (1950) caused a flurry of interest and controversy....

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