The Governance of Complexity
Edited by Kurt Dopfer
Chapter 3: Reconciling Evolutionary Economics with Liberalism
3. Reconciling evolutionary economics with liberalism Gerhard Wegner1 1. INTRODUCTION In economic theory it is common to assess new theories by their relevance for economic policy. However, theorists often avoid such an assessment, in particular if new theories are not fully ﬂedged. When theoretical work is in progress, the practical impact of new theories can be ambiguous, something which invites diﬀerent interpretations as the paradigm undergoes further elaboration. But even if the practical relevance for policy making looms ahead, the political consequences might lack attractiveness for theorists; for the cleavage between economic rationality and political rationality also applies to new economic paradigms so that economic policy is unlikely to change its course in light of new theoretical insights. Such diﬃculties are commonly taken as an excuse to avoid exploring the political impact of new economic paradigms in advance. Nevertheless, economic theorising is ultimately oriented to welfare and by nature bears political consequences, even if the latter are only indirect and theories do not explicitly identify welfare-promoting policies. Evolutionary economics is a case in point. So far it has not been linked to one speciﬁc political conception, e.g. in terms of interventionism or, alternatively, liberalism, although diﬀerent scholars tend to adopt one of these interpretations with regard to policy making. But before we enter into a discussion, let us establish that evolutionary economics, even though it represents a very broad ﬁeld of heterodox research, is oriented to economic policy and thus echoes its stationary rival, that is...
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