Ontological Issues in Evolutionary Economics: The Debate between Generalized Darwinism and the Continuity Hypothesis
Papers on Economics and Evolution No. 0805, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena
Posted: 13 Nov 2010
Date Written: June 1, 2008
Recently evolutionary economists started to pay attention to ontological issues in their own subfield. Two projects dominate the discussions: Generalized Darwinism (GD), promoted by Geoff Hodgson and Thorbjorn Knudsen, and the Continuity Hypothesis (CH), put forward by Ulrich Witt. As a first and crude approximation (to be refined below), GD entails the view that abstract and general Darwinian principles suit the study of biological evolution and of economic evolution equally well. The CH entails the view that ongoing economic evolution proceeds on the basis of, and is still influenced by the outcomes of preceding processes of biological evolution. At present, GD and CH are vying for hegemony in the community of evolutionary economists. GD and the CH sometimes are pitted against each other as if they were mutually excluding rivals. This paper investigates to what extent (and if so, in what sense) GD and the CH are rivals.
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