January 20, 2009

Today all eyes were on the inauguration of Barak Obama. To commemorate the moment, we want to draw the attention of our readers to an article, (Why we are, as we are)  published recently in the Economist.  The article spells out social policy implications of Darwinism. It is challenging. But it is also excellent food for thought and any social policy maker should at least be able to argue against the conclusions set forth in the piece. If the Obama administration, will be data driven, there are a few pieces worthy to study in detail.  Full article.


October 24, 2008

Similar to our efforts with the EEpedia on E.O. Wilson has spearheaded the Encyclopedia of Life whose goal is to catalog the millions of unidentified species on the planet and document its full biodiversity. Wilson describes the project on NY


April 20, 2008

A symposium on the Varieties of Knowledge in the Economy with Carliss Baldwin, Richard Langois, Johann Peter Murmann and Richard Nelson will take place at the Schumpeter Conference in Brazil.  More Details.


December 21, 2007

Darwin’s Surprise. Michael Spector reports in the New Yorker some exciting scientific breakthroughs in our understanding of the role viruses have played in the evolution of the human species. Scientists are bringing extict viruses back to life by combining the pieces of viral DNA that millions of years ago was fused into the genome of animals. Read the story here.


October 16, 2007

William M. Newman and Walter Vincenti have published a very useful short essay in Technology & Culture on how fields of engineering make progress by developing effective selection criteria for evaluating prototypes. The authors describe how human computer interface designers were able to learn from the history of aeronautical engineering in coming up with methodologies for devising useful selection criteria. Reference: On an Engineering Use of Engineering History - Technology and Culture 48:1 Technology and Culture 48.1 (2007) 245-247.


May 20, 2007

Cambridge University has put 5000 letters of Charles Darwin on the web in the form of a searchable archive. If you want to find out what Darwin thought about a topic near or dear to your mind, can search the database of the Darwin Correspondence Project.


March 10, 2007

Richard Nelson’s forthcoming paper in Biology and Philosophy on Universal Darwinism and Evolutionary Social Science is available in preprint on Springerlink. The paper continues ideas that Nelson first articulated in the discussion on Lamarckism in Social Evolution published on a few years ago.


December 13, 2006

In a Science Magazine  article entitled, Group Competition, Reproductive Leveling, and the Evolution of Human Altruism Samuel Bowles tries to resurrect the formerly discredited concept of group selection. Critics of group selection argued that egoist traits would in the end drive altruist traits out of existence because bearers of altruistic traits would not have as many off-spring as the bearers of egoistic traits, who only care about their genetic kin. With the help of a simulation model, Bowles deduces under what conditions early humans had to live for group selection to have been responsible for diffusion of altruistic traits among human populations.



November 26, 2006

The December 2006 Issue of the Journal of Evolutionary Economics (Volume 16, Number 5) features a series of articles on evolutionary concepts in economics and biology by Ulrich Witt, Geoffrey M. Hodgson and Thorbjoern Knudsen, Richard Nelson, Guido Buenstorf, Christian Cordes, Jack Vromen and Reinoud Joosten.


November 11, 2006

The prolific Geoffrey Hodgson has published a new book. Economics in the Shadows of Darwin and Marx:Essays on Institutional and Evolutionary Themes. Hodgson explains the reason for the book: Darwin and Marx stand out as the supreme theorists of structural change in complex living systems. Yet their analytical approaches are very different, and the idea that Darwinism has application to the social sciences is not widely appreciated. This collection of essays establishes the importance of Darwinism for economics and other social sciences, and compares the Darwinian legacy with that of Marx. Among the tendencies within economics influenced by Marxism that are dissected here is modern critical realism. The final part of the book adopts a Darwinian evolutionary approach to the analysis of institutions and routines. See Table of Conents.

November 10, 2006

The 3rd International Conference on Organizational Routines:Empirical research and conceptual foundation will be held in Strasbourg, France, 25-26 May 2007. Call for Papers

Conference on Darwinism in the 21st Century

Eors Szathmary reports in Science Magazine on a recent conference at Trinity College, Cambridge, that dicussed Darwin’s approach to science in the 19th century and how his methods may apply to the 21st century. The Report.


July 11, 2006

The publisher’s book description says that Rodolphe Durand’s new book Organizational Evolution and Strategic Managementprovides the foundation for a new theory of organizational selection and an organizational evolution and strategy model that reconciles economic evolution with strategic intentionality.” We will eagerly read the book and report on how he conceptualizes this reconciliation.


July 7, 2006

One of the basic tenets of evolutionary economics is that the constant changes occurring in capitalism turn the economy into a system that cannot be described fruitfully as being in equilibrium. John Matthews has written a new book in which he theorizes about firms go about making a living in such an unpredictable system. We will review the book in more detail in the near future.  Book Info.


April 7, 2006

H. Allen Orr has written a very thoughtful review essay in the New Yorker (April 3, 2006, pp. 80-83) about recent attempts to study religion from a scientific point of view. He discusses the new book by Daniel Dennett Breaking the Spell: Religion as Natural Phenomenon, Rodney Stark and Roger Fink’s Acts of Faith (2000) and David Sloan Wilson’s Darwin’s Cathedral (2002). You can get an electronic version through EBSCO publishingis Academic Search Premier Publications database available at most university libraries.


January 21, 2006

Michael Ruse reminisces about Ernst Mayer (1904-2005) and his work. For the social scientist this obituary in Philosphy and Biology about one of the great 20th century biologists is stimulating because it shows how the contested the idea of selection as the driver of biological evolution was in different periods of the discipline. One of the great questions in social evolution is precisely how much selection plays a role in the transformation of social and cultural systems.

December 20, 2005

“Intelligent Design” lost its first major day in court.   A federal judge in the United States ruled today that it was unconstitutional for a Pennsylvania school district to present intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in high school biology courses because it is a religious viewpoint that advances “a particular version of Christianity.” You can download the landmark 139-page ruling here: The “Intelligent Design” Dover Ruling


September 2005

The Evolutionary Foundations of Economics has come out! I (Johann Peter Murmann) provided a backcover advertisement, which I reproduce here: “The construction of an evolutionary economics is, in my view, one of the greatest scientific adventures of our time. This book brings together the leading scholars in the field to articulate what the evolutionary project in economics is all about, to provide a sense of its scope, and to lay the foundations for future research. The volume also extends a genuine invitation to participate in the exciting task of building an empirically grounded economic theory. The theoretical edifice of evolutionary economics is presently a work in progress, with some floors and some quarters much better worked out than others. But the vision of what it should look like at the end emerges clearly from this volume: it should be able to explain how modern economies came about through historically contingent processes and it should provide us with a deeper understanding of the economic challenges that lie ahead. I recommend leaving the introductory chapter for the end. Visit straight away the individual scholars’ workshops, which are filled with many marvelous insights.”Table of Contents


May 26, 2005

Little Science and Lots of Faith. H. Allen Orr set out to investigate how much science is behind the ‘intelligent design’ movement. He studied all the major works and an interviewed the key players. Read his interesting report in The New Yorker.

Also, Charles Townes, a Berkeley Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, talks about how he reconciles Science and Religion.

April 27, 2005


Not Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution

Richard Nelson reviews (April 27, 2005) Richerson and Boyd's Not by Genes Alone, a new book on the evolution of culture. The authors accepted our invitation to respond to Nelson's review. Registered users can post their own comments on the book at the end of the review. Table of Contents. Read an excerpt from the introductory chapter here.

April 26, 2005

The Jones Center of the Wharton School has posted an informative working paper by Sid Winter. In Developoing an Evolutionary Theory for Economics and Management Winter provides an illmuninating discussion of the intellectual origins and problems encountered in his quest to develop an evolutionary theory for economic phenoma. He also articulates his vision of the tasks that lie ahead. 

December 31, 2004


Knowledge and Competitive Advantage: The Coevolution of Firms, Technology, and National Institutions

Johann Peter Murmann compares the development of the synthetic dye industry in Great Britain, Germany, and the United States through the lenses of evolutionary theory. As Murmann demonstrates, a complex coevolutionary process linking firms, technology, and national institutions resulted in very different degrees of industrial success among the dye firms in the three countries. The book won Joseph Schumpter Prize and the Stanley Reiter in 2004. Download Introductory Chapter

December 28, 2004


The Evolving Economy

This volume contains 20 of Ulrich Witt's essays on evolutionary economics written between 1985 and 2001. Some of the issues he addresses include the biological foundations of economic behavior, the dissemination of new industrial technologies under network externalities, and the application of the theory of self-organization to the study of change in the marketplace.

December 12, 2004

Environmental History: Prospectus for a New Field. Edmund Russel has written an interesting essay, calling for an evolutionary view of environmental history.

September 26, 2004


Debate on Larmarckism in Social Evolution

In June 2004, Geoffrey Hodgson and Thorbjorn Knudsen circulated a paper under a title of The Limits of Larmarckism Revisited. What followed was a very interesting debate provoked by a response from Richard Nelson. Geoffrey Hodgson, Thorbjorn Knudsen, John van Wyhe, Marion Blute, John Gowdy, and David Hull all participated in this high quality debate that took place within a few days. Anyone interested in evolutionary thought in the social sciences will profit from reading this exchange. Comments on the debate are welcome. (The Hodgson and Knudsen paper is now published in the Journal of Evolutionary Economics. Download here.)

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