Peter A. Corning. Synergy Goes to War: A Bioeconomic Theory of Collective Violence

Synergy — otherwise unattainable combined effects that are produced by two or more elements, parts or individuals — has played a key causal role in the evolution of complexity, from the very origins of life to the evolution of humankind and complex societies. This theory — known as the “Synergism Hypothesis” — also applies to social behavior, including the use of collective violence for various purposes: predation, defense against predators, the acquisition of needed resources (food patches, nes...

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Geoffrey M. Hodgson. The ubiquity of habits and rules

Under what circumstances is it necessary or convenient for an agent to rely on habits or rules? This paper focuses on the types of decision situation giving rise to their use. Even optimisation requires the deployment of rules, and for this reason mainstream economics cannot legitimately ignore these questions. The argument is that habits and rules are ubiquitous in human activity. In a new taxonomy, seven types of decision situations are considered, classified according to the type of informa...

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Jochen Röpke. Evolution and Innovation

Our knowledge about evolutionary change is limited. Evolutionary economics is still in its infancy; indeed we are on thin theoretical ice in linking evolution and innovation. If we are to reach a new level of understanding we must engage in quasiscientific speculation in order to generate new theories, better able to explain the facts of economic life. Such new theories have been developed in recent years, and even if they do not yet possess a paradigmatic standing in the scientific community,...

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Peter A. Corning. Holistic Darwinism “Synergistic Selection” and the Evolutionary Process.

The emotionally - charged group selection debate in biology - which celebrated an unofficial 30th anniversary in 1996 -- provides a classic example of a controversy that arose from a misconception. To Darwin and many of his contemporaries, group selection was a perfectly respectable concept. Indeed, it was Darwin who first proposed, in The Descent of Man (1874/1871), the then unexceptional idea that differential group selection may have played an important role in human evolution, along with...

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Geoffrey M. Hodgson. Evolutionary and Institutional Economics as the New Mainstream?

Mainstream economics has changed radically since the 1980s, offering greatly enhanced opportunities for intervention by evolutionary and institutional economics. This article surveys the extent of this transformation and the extent that mainstream economics has moved in an evolutionary and institutional direction. There are also signs of a possible gestaltshift in the social sciences, where rules are seen as constitutive of social relations and social reality. This contrasts with the former em...

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Peter A. Corning. The Synergism Hypothesis. On the Concept of Synergy and It’s Role in the Evolution of Complex Systems.

It is one of the paradoxes of our age that as the tools of scientific research have grown ever more powerful -- from positron emission tomography to electron microscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance and massively parallel computers -- the phenomena we are able to investigate (and their causal dynamics) seem to grow ever more complex. The relentless reductionism of particle physics, polymer chemistry, molecular biology and neurobiology, among other disciplines, has not (so far) revealed the dec...

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