[OPE-L:3047] Re: Okishio and mathematical Economics

Stephen Cullenberg (Stephen.Cullenberg@ucr.edu)
Wed, 18 Sep 1996 08:32:44 -0700 (PDT)

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Following on my post a while ago concerning the difficulty of
eliminationist arguments, Paul makes the following (correct) point.
>The Maynard Smith argument, as do all Darwinian arguments, assumes a
>population of the feature under selection, in this case: behaviours.
>Paul Cockshott

Yes, I agree, that all Darwinian arguments assume heterogeneous
populations, otherwise there wouldn't be anything to select. But, we must
also be concerned with the "unit of selection". I argued that it is not
self-evident that the in an economy with heterogeneous measures of profit,
various time horizons, and so on, that there isn't any obvious unit of
selection. I agree that there is if each firm uses the same measure of
profit and time horizon, but then you really don't have an evolutionary
problem. Put my concern differently, what are the (economic) evolutionary
forces that would select a particular measure of profit and time horizon as
the dominant one in an economy with heterogeneously structured firms?
Surely, this evolutionary result has not occurred yet and as evolutionary
arguments are at their heart ex post explanatory and not ex ante
predication, we'll just have to wait to see. And, again, I think Winter's
article deals with this well.

I don't have the exact source in front of me here, but one place I enjoyed
reading about the problems with the unit of selection is in Stephen Jay
Gould's article "Spandrels of San Marcos".


Stephen Cullenberg office: (909) 787-5037, ext. 1573
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