Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9780226346908 Published December 2010
Paper $27.50 ISBN: 9780226005782 Published January 2013
E-book $7.00 to $27.50 About E-books ISBN: 9780226346922 Published December 2010

Darwin's Conjecture

The Search for General Principles of Social and Economic Evolution

Geoffrey M. Hodgson and Thorbjørn Knudsen

Geoffrey M. Hodgson and Thorbjørn Knudsen

304 pages | 1 halftone, 4 line drawings, 3 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2010
Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9780226346908 Published December 2010
Paper $27.50 ISBN: 9780226005782 Published January 2013
E-book $7.00 to $27.50 About E-books ISBN: 9780226346922 Published December 2010

Of paramount importance to the natural sciences, the principles of Darwinism, which involve variation, inheritance, and selection, are increasingly of interest to social scientists as well. But no one has provided a truly rigorous account of how the principles apply to the evolution of human society—until now.

In Darwin’s Conjecture, Geoffrey Hodgson and Thorbjørn Knudsen reveal how the British naturalist’s core concepts apply to a wide range of phenomena, including business practices, legal systems, technology, and even science itself. They also critique some prominent objections to applying Darwin to social science, arguing that ultimately Darwinism functions as a general theoretical framework for stimulating further inquiry. Social scientists who adopt a Darwinian approach, they contend, can then use it to frame and help develop new explanatory theories and predictive models.

This truly pathbreaking work at long last makes the powerful conceptual tools of Darwin available to the social sciences and will be welcomed by scholars and students from a range of disciplines.

Robin I. M. Dunbar, University of Oxford
“A long-awaited and desperately needed guide to why the social sciences should take Darwin seriously. Erudite, lucidly written—a veritable tour de force.”
Howard E. Aldrich
“In this provocative and informative new book, Hodgson and Knudsen offer a general conceptual scheme that allows the application of Darwinian principles to social and economic evolution. The authors bring together concepts and principles from an eclectic mix of sources. Among other applications, they show the usefulness of this scheme for explaining the evolution of prelinguistic culture, human language, tribal customs, writing and records, states and laws, and the institutionalization of science and technology. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in modern evolutionary thought as applied to the social sciences.”--Howard E. Aldrich, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Peter A. Corning
“This is a foundational book. It should be required reading for anyone who is concerned about the future of economic theory, not to mention those who may need some retrofitting in the wake of the neoclassical meltdown.”--Peter A. Corning, Institute for the Study of Complex Systems
David Lee Hull
“In Darwin’s Conjecture, Hodgson and Knudsen join numerous scholars from Darwin’s day to the present in attempting to extend Darwin’s analysis of selection to cover other sorts of phenomena, including socioeconomic evolution. The reader of this carefully and clearly written book will come away bereft of the usual superficial objections to selection outside gene-based biological evolution.”--David Lee Hull, Northwestern University
Marion Blute

“One of the most accomplished institutional economists of our time and his coauthor argue for a generalized Darwinism for the social sciences. They are far from alone in thinking that the time is right!”--Marion Blute, University of Toronto

Financial Times
"A book that business people should read in order to understand business. It is a scholarly and profound work of relevance to all the social sciences."—Financial Times
Choice
"Hodgson and Knudsen argue in meticulous detail that [Darwin's] principles apply to all 'complex systems of population' in social and economic domains. . . . The authors conducted a massive amount of research in writing this book, which is a must read for social science scholars interested in evolutionary theory or complexity."
BioScience
“Hodgson and Knudsen recognize that Darwinian principles operate at a high level of generality and that many differences exist between the biological and the social mechanisms through which variation appears, is selected, and is then inherited. Nevertheless, generalized Darwinism can be one of the foundations of a new science of evolutionary social change. . . . Well argued, timely, and well written . . . [Darwin’s Conjecture is] essential reading for anyone with an interest in [this] vibrant new field.”
Contents

Preface

Acknowledgments

 

chapter one   

The Challenge of Darwinism for the Social Sciences

 

chapter two   

Generalizing Darwinism

 

chapter three   

Rivals and Rebuttals

 

chapter four   

The Lamarckian Confusion

 

chapter five   

The Principle of Selection and Its Application to Social Evolution

 

chapter six   

Information, Complexity, and Generative Replication

 

chapter seven   

From Group Selection to Organizational Interactors

 

chapter eight   

Major Information Transitions in Social Evolution

 

chapter NINE   

Conclusions and Agenda for Future Research

 

Glossary

References

Index
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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