Toward an evolutionary and moral science remarks upon receipt of the Veblen-Commons Award
Hodgson, Geoffrey M.
Thorstein Veblen asked in 1898 why economics is not an evolutionary science; he also proposed a Darwinian paradigm shift for economics. Among the implications reviewed here was his claim that Darwinian principles applied to social entities as well as to biological phenomena. It is also argued that economists have additional reasons for taking Darwinian evolution seriously. Recent work on the evolution of altruism, cooperation and morality show that we are on the brink of developing an evolutionary-grounded theory of human motivation that breaks from the selfish utility-maximizer lambasted by Veblen. This new theory accepts a biological as well as a cultural foundation for moral dispositions. As noted here, the neglected British institutional economist John A. Hobson - who was an acquaintance of Veblen - foreshadowed this approach.