Dismantling Lamarckism: why descriptions of socio-economic evolution as Lamarckian are misleading
This paper addresses the widespread tendency to describe socio-economic evolution as Lamarckian. The difference between Lamarckian and Darwinian replication is clarified. It is shown that a phenotype-genotype distinction must first be established before we can identify Lamarckian transmission. To qualify as Lamarckian inheritance, acquired properties at the phenotypic level must be encoded in a genotype that is passed on to the next generation. Some possible social replicators (or genotypes) are identified, with a view to exploring possible distinctions between genotype and phenotype at the social level. It is concluded that the Lamarckian label does not readily transfer to socio-economic evolution, despite the fact that social genotypes (such as routines) may adapt within any given phenotype (such as an organisation). By contrast, no such problems exist with the description of socio-economic evolution as Darwinian.