The possibility of generalizing Darwinian principles to social and economic evolution has been widely acknowledged sionce Darwin himself. Thorbjorn Knudsen and I have been working on this prioject and have responded to some criticisms of the idea:
(With Howard E. Aldrich, David L. Hull, Thorbjørn Knudsen, Joel Mokyr and Viktor J. Vanberg) ‘In Defence of Generalized Darwinism’, Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 18(5), October 2008, pp. 577-96.
(With Thorbjørn Knudsen) ‘Evolutionary Theorizing Beyond Lamarckism: A Reply to Richard Nelson’, Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 17(3), June 2007, pp. 353-9.
‘A Response to Christian Cordes and Clifford Poirot’, Journal of Economic Issues, 41(1), March 2007, pp. 265-76.
(With Thorbjørn Knudsen) ‘The Nature and Units of Social Selection’, Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 16(5), December 2006, pp. 477-89.
(With Thorbjørn Knudsen) ‘Dismantling Lamarckism: Why Descriptions of Socio-Economic Evolution as Lamarckian are Misleading’, Journal of Evolutionary Economics,
16(4), October 2006, pp. 343-66.
(With Thorbjørn Knudsen) ‘Why We Need a Generalized Darwinism: And Why a Generalized Darwinism is Not Enough’, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization,
61(1), September 2006, pp. 1-19.
‘Generalizing Darwinism to Social Evolution: Some Early Attempts’, Journal of Economic Issues, 39(4), December 2005, pp. 899-914.
‘Darwinism, Causality and the Social Sciences’, Journal of Economic Methodology , 11(2), June 2004, pp. 175-94.
‘The Mystery of the Routine: The Darwinian Destiny of An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change’, Revue Économique, 54(2), Mars 2003, pp. 355-84.
‘Darwinism in Economics: From Analogy to Ontology’, Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 12(2), June 2002, pp. 259-81.
On Critical Realism
I recognise the achievements of critical realism and I regard myself as a philosophical realist. Nevertheless, I have differences with some claims proposed by prominent critical realists.
The following article criticises the alleged political implications of critical realism, proposed by Roy Bhaskar and others:
‘Marching to the Promised Land?: Some Doubts on the Policy Affinities of Critical Realism’, Alethia, , 2(2), October 1999, pp. 1-9.
Andrew Collier replied to my argument in the same issue, followed by a response by myself.
My article on the political claims of critical realism was edited and reprinted in my Economics in the Shadows of Darwin and Marx (2006), which contains two more essays on critical realism. The second is a previously unpublished full-length appraisal of Tony Lawson’s critique of formalism in economics. The third is an edited and reprinted version of the following article:
‘Some Claims Made for Critical Realism in Economics: Two Case Studies’, Journal of Economic Methodology, 11(1), March 2004, pp. 71-91.
My book The Evolution of Institutional Economics (2004) also contains some criticisms of critical realism, as well as of other approaches to social theory.
I favour a mixed economy with state intervention, including fiscal redistributory measures and a strong welfare state. In such a system, markets and other commodity exchanges exist alongside elements of organisation and planning. Within appropriate limits, I also favour a feasible extension of democratic participation and popular involvement in decision making.
Pat Devine proposed a much more extensive degree of popular participation in the following book:
Devine, Patrick (1988) Democracy and Economic Planning: The Political Economy of a Self-Governing Society (Cambridge: Polity Press)
Five years later, Paul Cockshott and Allin Cottrell argued that computers could over come the problems of information processing in a planned economy:
Cockshott, W. Paul and Cottrell, Allin F. (1993) Towards a New Socialism (Nottingham: Spokesman).
I criticised both these proposals as unfeasible in ‘Socialism Against Markets? A Critique of Two Recent Proposals’, Economy and Society, 27(4), November 1998, pp. 450-76. This essay was republished in my book Economics and Utopia (1999).
Fikret Adaman and Pat Devine responded in ‘Participatory Planning as a Deliberative Democratic Process: A Response to Hodgson’s Critique’, Economy and Society, 30(2), May 2001, pp. 229-39. My response to them was ‘The Limits to Participatory Planning: A Reply to Adaman and Devine’, Economy and Society, 34(1), February 2005, pp. 141-53.
On Institutionalism and Marxism
On 30 April 2001 a debate on 'Institutionalism versus Marxism' was held at the University of Hertfordshire between Alex Callinicos and myself. This debate is published in my Economics in the Shadows of Darwin and Marx (2006).
On Friedrich Hayek
Some critical observations on Hayek's evolutionary ideas and his treatment of Darwinism appeared in my 1993 book Economics and Evolution.
Bruce Caldwell defended Hayek against my criticisms in his ‘Hodgson on Hayek: A Critique’, Cambridge Journal of Economics,
25(4), July 2001, pp. 539-53.
This was followed by my reply and a rejoinder by Bruce:
Hodgson, Geoffrey M. (2004) ‘Hayekian Evolution Reconsidered: A Response to Caldwell’, Cambridge Journal of Economics,, 28(2), March, pp. 291-300.
Caldwell, Bruce J. (2004) ‘Hayekian Evolution Reconsidered: A Reply to Hodgson’, Cambridge Journal of Economics,
28(2), March, pp. 301-305.
Hodgson, Geoffrey M. ‘Caldwell on Hayek on Historicism, Institutionalism and Evolution’.