From T(h)e(le)ology to Evolution: The Typological Legacy and the Darwinian Possibility of Economic Theorizing

Luz, Manuel R. Souza; Fracalanza, Paulo S.
March 2013
Journal of Economic Issues (M.E. Sharpe Inc.);Mar2013, Vol. 47 Issue 1, p193
Academic Journal
The characterization of neoclassical economics as a "taxonomic science" and the understanding of the evolutionary possibilities of economic theorizing are central aspects of Thorstein Veblen's institutional thought. This paper seeks to provide elements for a contemporary resumption of such Veblenian elaborations. Thus, we aim to re-establish the dialogue between economics and biology, focusing on the historical and methodological spheres of the conversation. The first part of the paper demonstrates that evolutionary biology's analysis of the pre-Darwinian past relies on the same principles that Veblen used to build his criticism of neoclassical economics - namely, the principles of typology. The paper also shows how this approach had a negative impact on the theoretical elaborations of pre-Darwinian biology, and how it contributed to the problematic foundations of neoclassical economics. The paper further focuses on the key methodological principles of Charles Darwin's works, highlighting their importance beyond the field of biology, and pointing out that a Darwinian approach constitutes an ontological perspective, premised on what Geoffrey Hodgson and Thorbjørn Knudsen denote as "generalized Darwinism." Finally, the paper discusses certain concepts in the general theoretical debate of Darwinian ontology to stress the revolutionary role of Charles Darwin as a founder of this perspective and to explore the relationship between the ontological perspective and biological analogy.


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