Updating Paul Krugman, “Evolution Groupie”

David Sloan Wilson in Evonomics:

ScreenHunter_1641 Jan. 21 21.54After complaining that economic soul searching taking place since 2008 ignores evolutionary theory, I was made aware of Paul Krugman’s 1996 address to the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy. I had read it before but upon refreshing my memory I see that it provides an excellent opportunity to reflect upon changes that have taken place in my own field of evolutionary science during the last two decades.

Krugman’s address, which is reprinted here with his permission, was titled “What Economists Can Learn from Evolutionary Theorists”. He begins by acknowledging that his audience might know more than he does about evolution in relation to economics, but then demonstrates an impressive command of the evolutionary literature, including major figures such as George C. Williams, William D. Hamilton, John Maynard Smith, Richard Dawkins, and Stephen Jay Gould. He confesses to being an “evolution groupie”, even to the point of reading the primary literature and not just popular accounts.

What is the take-away message of evolutionary theory for Krugman? Mostly, that it affirms “standard economics”, at least in the form that he practices. In his own mind, he is “a maximization-and-equilibrium kind of guy” who has “pushed the envelope, but not broken it”.

More here.