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Eat Grubs and Live: The Habit-Instinct Problem in Institutional Evolutionary Economics

Clifford S. Poirot, Jr.
Journal of Economic Issues
Vol. 42, No. 2, Papers from the 2008 AFEE Meeting (Jun., 2008), pp. 407-413
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25511325
Page Count: 7
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Eat Grubs and Live: The Habit-Instinct Problem in Institutional Evolutionary Economics
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Abstract

This paper addresses a longstanding controversy in Institutional-Evolutionary Economics about whether or how Darwin's theory of biological evolution can apply to social evolution. It compares and contrasts the view of Evolutionary Psychology with those of Veblen and places Veblen's contributions in the context of 19th century Darwinism and turn of the century anthropology. It argues that Veblen explains social evolution through changes in the application of intelligent reasoning to the problems of material provisioning. An important implication of this paper is that while Darwinian and Neo-Darwinian concepts are relevant to cultural evolution, there are significant limits to their application.

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