Rethinking Economic Evolution
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Rethinking Economic Evolution

Essays on Economic Change and its Theory

Ulrich Witt

Modern economies never come to rest. From institutions to activities of production, trade, and consumption, everything is locked in processes of perpetual transformation – and so are our daily lives. Why and how do such transformations occur? What can economic theory tell us about these changes and where they might lead? Ulrich Witt’s book discusses why evolutionary concepts are necessary to answer such questions. While economic evolution is in many respects unique, it nonetheless needs to be seen within the broader context of natural evolution. By exploring this complex relationship, Rethinking Economic Evolution demonstrates the significance of an evolutionary economic theory.
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Chapter 12: Production' in nature and production in the economy—second thoughts about some basic economic concepts

Ulrich Witt


If production means generating output by application of specific inputs, then production is a ubiquitous phenomenon in nature. This observation invites a double comparison. First, physical production processes in nature can be compared to those in the economy. The differences highlight cumulative changes in technology which explain how specific modern forms of human production have become feasible through cultural evolution. Second, such a 'naturalistic' perspective on production can be compared to, and sheds new light on, the remarkably different perspective in economics which interprets production not as physical processes, but as a problem of human social interactions and coordination.

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