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JEBO special issue on Evolution

Jonathan B. Wight

David Sloan Wilson, John M. Gowdy and J. Barkley Rosser Jr have edited a fine collection of papers about the role of evolution and multi-level selection in a special issue of the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.  See here for a link to free articles (limited time offer):

For those new to this, multi-level selection theory basically argues that evolution works at more than one level.  In addition to individuals competing against other individuals, groups compete against other groups.  The dynamics of group behavior, including moral sentiments and ethical norms, are an important part of the conversation.  

This creates interesting dynamics, in which cooperation and sacrifice for the group can sometimes produce greater rates of survival and procreation.  Darwin was himself a fan of group selection theory.  

Then, in the 1970s, socio-biology fell out of favor, coincident with the rise of neoclassical economics, which posits selfish individualism.  David Sloan Wilson and others have been attempting to resurrect the social view of evolution.  Social economists have a lot at stake.


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