Implications for Economic Policy
Edited by John Finch and Magali Orillard
Chapter 6: The Naturalist View of Universal Darwinism: An Application to the Evolutionary Theory of the Firm
6. The Naturalist view of Universal Darwinism: an application to the evolutionary theory of the firm J.W. Stoelhorst 1. INTRODUCTION Nelson and Winter’s An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change (1982) is one of the seminal contributions to evolutionary theories in economics. However, as Hodgson (2003) has recently shown, questions may be raised about the way in which Nelson and Winter use evolutionary concepts. Is the use of concepts from the theory of biological evolution a matter of metaphor or analogy, or are there ontological commonalities between social and biological evolution (Hodgson 2002, 2003)? One of Nelson and Winter’s achievements is that they ground their evolutionary theory more ﬁrmly in the three, core, Darwinian principles of variety, inheritance and selection than their predecessors in economics (Hodgson 1993, 2003). At the same time, however, they are reluctant to admit to more than the use of analogy. Hodgson argues that more than mere analogy is involved in applying evolutionary theory to economics, and that the Darwinian destiny of evolutionary theory in economics is yet to be realized (Hodgson 2001, 2002, 2003). This claim is based on the promise of Universal Darwinism, which holds that the development over time of any open, complex system can be understood in terms of variation, selection and retention (Campbell 1965, 1974; Lewontin 1970; Plotkin 1994; Cziko 1995; Dennett 1995). The purpose of this chapter is to contribute to the effort to ground evolutionary theory in economics in the principles of Universal Darwinism by viewing the ﬁrm as an...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.