Charles Darwin and Adam Smith Had Much in Common
A regular correspondent (“airth”) to Lost Legacy drew my attention to an article that had not shown up in my Google Alerts service.
I read it this evening and was struck by much in it of which I agreed, plus one or two irritating errors inevitable when anyone writes about a multi-disciplinary survey when he is an expert in one discipline but not in another. I am sure I make elementary mistakes when I write with confidence about natural selection.
Now I have drawn your attention to this important subject and its interesting suggestions for modern economists to consider and improve their options by considering Darwinian evolutionary thinking and its potential for bringing economics more into relevance with the real world.
For now I shall leave you with these thoughts. Adam Smith’s thinking and writing was nothing like the modern image of his moral philosophy or is political economy (the subject of two books of mine: Kennedy, 2005. “Adam Smith’s Lost Legacy”, Palgrave-Macmillan; Kennedy, 2008. 2nd ed. 2010. “Adam Smith: a moral philosopher and his political economy”, Palgrave-Macmillan). I have a third book under way, entitled: “An Invisible Hand: a hasty and harmful conclusion”.
I strongly recommend that you follow the link HERE and read David Sloan Wilson’s article in full:
David Sloan Wilson posts in AEON on “A Good Social Darwinism”: Evolution has changed all we know about how humans behave, compete and co-operate. When will economics catch up?
I am preparing to leave France and I return to Scotland tomorrow, from where I will comment in more detail on its interesting ideas and also on its glaring misunderstandings of aspect of Adam Smiths and others writing in the classical liberal tradition until the discipline was captured by neoclassical ideologues under the guise of mathematical methods and the false theory of Homo economicus.
David Sloan Wilson is on the right track but missing the real target for his critique.
There is a classical tradition in economics that has always been more empathetic to an evolutionary approach (especially in the writings of Adam Smith and Hayek). There are some neoclassical economists who, while ignorant of Adam Smith, are also muddled on Darwin too.
I shall return to this subject in Edinburgh over the week-end.