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Complexity and Evolution – Toward a New Synthesis for Economics - MIT Press Scholarship Online
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Complexity and Evolution: Toward a New Synthesis for Economics

David S Wilson and Alan Kirman


Two widely heralded yet contested approaches to economics have emerged in recent years. One follows an older, rather neglected approach which emphasizes evolutionary theory in terms of individuals and institutions. The other emphasizes economies as complex adaptive systems. Important concepts from evolutionary theory include the distinction between proximate and ultimate causation, multilevel selection, cultural change as an evolutionary process, and human psychology as a product of gene–culture coevolution. Relevant concepts from complexity theory include self-organization, fractals, chaos, s ... More

Keywords: Strüngmann Forum Reports, complexity, complex systems theory, economics, evolution, evolutionary theory, multilevel selection theory, non-equilibrium dynamics

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780262035385
Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017 DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262035385.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

David S Wilson, editor
Binghamton University 

Alan Kirman, editor
École des hautes études en sciences sociales

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1 Introduction

David S. Wilson, Alan Kirman, and Julia Lupp

Challenges of Integrating Complexity and Evolution

5 Challenges of Integrating Complexity and Evolution into Economics

Robert Axtell, Alan Kirman, Iain D. Couzin, Daniel Fricke, Thorsten Hens, Michael E. Hochberg, John E. Mayfield, Peter Schuster, and Rajiv Sethi

Evolutionary Behavioral Economics

8 Evolutionary Behavioral Economics

Terence C. Burnham, Stephen E. G. Lea, Adrian V. Bell, Herbert Gintis, Paul W. Glimcher, Robert Kurzban, Leonhard Lades, Kevin McCabe, Karthik Panchanathan, Miriam Teschl, and Ulrich Witt

Evolution of Institutions and Organizations

9 The Diffusion of Institutions

Enrico Spolaore and Romain Wacziarg

12 Evolution of Institutions and Organizations

Thomas E. Currie, Peter Turchin, Jenna Bednar, Peter J. Richerson, Georg Schwesinger, Sven Steinmo, Romain Wacziarg, and John J. Wallis

Shaping the Evolution of Complex Societies

16 Advancing Agent_Zero

Joshua M. Epstein and Julia Chelen

17 Not Half Bad

Scott E. Page

18 Shaping the Evolution of Complex Societies

John Gowdy, Mariana Mazzucato, Jeroen C. J. M. van den Bergh, Sander E. van der Leeuw, and David S. Wilson