Two widely heralded yet contested approaches to economics have emerged in recent years: one emphasizes evolutionary theory in terms of individuals and institutions; the other views economies as complex adaptive systems. In this book, leading scholars examine these two bodies of theory, exploring their possible impact on economics. Relevant concepts from evolutionary theory drawn on by the contributors include the distinction between proximate and ultimate causation, multilevel selection, cultural change as an evolutionary process, and human psychology as a product of gene-culture coevolution. Applicable ideas from complexity theory include self-organization, fractals, chaos theory, sensitive dependence, basins of attraction, and path dependence.
The contributors discuss a synthesis of complexity and evolutionary approaches and the challenges that emerge. Focusing on evolutionary behavioral economics, and the evolution of institutions, they offer practical applications and point to avenues for future research.
David S. Wilson is SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University and President of the Evolution Institute.
Alan Kirman is Emeritus Professor of Economics at Aix-Marseille University and Director of Studies at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Aix-en-Provence.