The Elgar Companion to Recent Economic Methodology
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The Elgar Companion to Recent Economic Methodology

Edited by John B. Davis and D. Wade Hands

Bringing together a collection of leading contributors to this new methodological thinking, the authors explain how it differs from the past and point towards further concerns and future issues. The recent research programs explored include behavioral and experimental economics, neuroeconomics, new welfare theory, happiness and subjective well-being research, geographical economics, complexity and computational economics, agent-based modeling, evolutionary thinking, macroeconomics and Keynesianism after the crisis, and new thinking about the status of the economics profession and the role of the media in economics.
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Chapter 15: Heterogeneous Economic Evolution: A Different View on Darwinizing Evolutionary Economics

Jack Vromen


Jack Vromen1 15.1 INTRODUCTION Recently proponents declared their Generalized Darwinism to be the emerging communis opinio in evolutionary economics (Hodgson, 2010). Given that over the last decade Generalized Darwinism has met strong resistance from within certain quarters of evolutionary economics (see Witt, 2004, 2007; Bünstorf, 2006; Cordes, 2006; Schubert, 2009), this (alleged) convergence on a received view on how to Darwinize evolutionary economics is remarkable. This agreement might well turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory for Generalized Darwinism’s proponents, however. As I argued elsewhere (Vromen, 2007, 2010), the price for gaining acceptance in the evolutionary economics community seems to be that proponents had to settle on a version of Darwinism that is so general and abstract that ‘Darwinism’ seems to have lost its definite and discriminating contours. Indeed, the sort of Darwinism we are left with seems so diluted that it is not worth fighting for. It seems that its principles are so much emptied from their content and substance that they are of little if any use in guiding further theory construction. Fortunately there seems to be an alternative view on Darwinizing evolutionary economics in the offing that does not have this drawback. In his recent book, Peter Godfrey-Smith (2009) develops a useful taxonomy for distinguishing Darwinian from non-Darwinian processes and, within the former category, for distinguishing the degree to which processes are Darwinian. This taxonomy is developed to come to grips with the vast heterogeneity of evolutionary processes in biology. But, as GodfreySmith himself suggests, it...

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