Evolution for Everyone

Archives for March, 2010

One of the most stimulating workshops that I attended during 2009, the year of Darwin, was titled “Evolution–the Extended Synthesis” and held at the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Altenberg, Austria. Sixteen evolutionists met to discuss how our field has changed since Julian Huxley’s Evolution: The Modern Synthesis, which was published in 1942 and represented a…

Lin’s recipe for success (see E&E VII) might seem obvious in retrospect, but it is hard to categorize as liberal, conservative, or libertarian as these terms are used in current American political life. On one hand, the need for local autonomy (ingredient 6) gives Lin’s recipe a conservative and libertarian feel. Big government shouldn’t meddle…

A lot of data interpreted by the right kind of theory (see E&E III) was required for Lin to identify the eight ingredients that enable groups to manage their own affairs. A warning is in order before I proceed: After you learn them, you are likely to think “Of course! Aren’t these obvious?” The answer…

We needn’t wait for the merits of the evolutionary perspective for economics and public policy to be recognized–they already have in the choice of Elinor Ostrom as the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics. Lin (as she likes to be called) is a political scientist by training, but the study of institutional change…

The goal of public policy, at least idealistically, is to benefit the common good. Way back in the 1700’s, Adam Smith made the observation that economies have a way of running themselves without their members having the common good in mind. Their narrow concerns are guided, as if by an invisible hand, to regulate the…