In defence of generalized Darwinism

Howard E. Aldrich, Geoffrey M. Hodgson, David L. Hull, Thorbjørn Knudsen, Joel Mokyr, Viktor J. Vanberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

223 Scopus citations


Darwin himself suggested the idea of generalizing the core Darwinian principles to cover the evolution of social entities. Also in the nineteenth century, influential social scientists proposed their extension to political society and economic institutions. Nevertheless, misunderstanding and misrepresentation have hindered the realization of the powerful potential in this longstanding idea. Some critics confuse generalization with analogy. Others mistakenly presume that generalizing Darwinism necessarily involves biological reductionism. This essay outlines the types of phenomena to which a generalized Darwinism applies, and upholds that there is no reason to exclude social or economic entities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-596
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Economics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2008


  • Generalized Darwinism
  • Replication
  • Selection
  • Socio-economic evolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics


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