Evolutionary Economics and Evolutionary Biology

  • Ulrich Witt
Part of the Studies in Economic Ethics and Philosophy book series (SEEP)


Present theorizing in economics is mainly directed towards two goals. First, there is the functionalist endeavor at explaining, or better rationalizing, why certain kinds of behavior and institutions can be observed in the economy. Second, efforts are made to attribute, in a hypothetico-normative manner, certain features, such as efficiency, equity, or optimality, to the outcome of the economic process. Both strands of thought relate to a definition of economics as a discipline which deals with the problem of scarcity. As a result of “nature’s parsimony”, as Ricardo once put it, humans (and probably not only humans, see Ghiselin 1978) have to use scarce means to achieve given ends. An alternative to this latently normative orientation is to interprete economics as a theory of human social behavior in the context of what are usually considered economic activities, namely production, accumulation, distribution, exchange, and consumption. From this perspective, explaining why and how the historically observable forms of production, accumulation, distribution, exchange, and consumption change so significantly and why the changes have accelerated so much in the last few centuries is a natural goal for economic theorizing.


Evolutionary Game Theory Conditioned Reinforcer Reciprocal Altruism Primary Reinforcer Economic Domain 
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  • Ulrich Witt

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