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AFEEMAIL  August 2011

AFEEMAIL August 2011

Subject:

Re: Conclusions based on a generalized Darwinist model

From:

"Hodgson, Geoffrey M" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

AFEEMAIL Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 5 Aug 2011 14:56:29 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (123 lines)

Dear Friends

It is always dangerous to respond to a book that one has not read. If Loet would care to read it, he will find that:

(a) much of what we claim is new, and not "familiar", 

(b) we folly and openly emphasize that selection environments (i) matter, (ii) differ and (iii) change, and

(c) we criticize some earlier applications of Darwinian principles. 

Please do not dismiss arguments before you have read them.

Best wishes
Geoff




-----Original Message-----
From: AFEEMAIL Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Loet Leydesdorff
Sent: 05 August 2011 05:48
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [AFEEMAIL] Conclusions based on a generalized Darwinist model

Dear Bruce and colleagues, 

I did not read the book, but the claim is familiar and is periodically
repeated in the literature. In my opinion, the call to return to Darwin is
itself a social text which underestimates much progress which has been made.

First, the neo-Schumpeterians have convincingly shown, in my opinion, that
different selection environments (e.g., market, non-market) can operate
differently. Nelson & Winter (1982) still naturalized selection
environments, but others have taken this further and studied interactions
among selection mechanisms. These interactions cannot be reduced to
Darwinian theorizing: some selections can be selected for stabilization
(along trajectories) and some stabiliziation can be selected for
globalization; that is, the shaping of regimes at the global level (Dosi,
1982). Regimes are self-organizing and thus the theory of autopoiesis
(Maturana) becomes relevant. Maturana's theory is constructivist and can no
longer be naturalized as Darwinian.

Luhmann (1984, 1995) becomes important here because he argued that while
living is based on the communication of molecules, social systems are based
on the communication of meaning. Meaning operates with a dynamics different
from the communication of information. This accords with Esben Slot
Andersen's critique of the neo-Schumpeterians that one should specify "what
is evolving". (Without this specification evolutionary economics degenerates
into a theory of the firm and thus institutional economics.)

Meaning is provided from the perspective of hindsight and with reference to
(relatively global) horizons of meaning. The theory and computations of
anticipatory systems (Rosen, 1985; Dubois, 1998) thus becomes relevant.
Luhmann adds (following Parsons) the notion of symbolically generalized
media of communication which generate artificial languages allowing for
meta-representations. This is most relevant for economics because the
exchanges of money and credit presume such symbolic generalizations. 

Let me take the liberty to point to: "Meaning" as a sociological concept: A
review of the modeling, mapping, and simulation of the communication of
knowledge and meaning, Social Science Information 50(3-4) (2011) 1-23;
forthcoming, but available at
http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1011/1011.3244.pdf . The issues are
specifically urgent when discussing a knowledge-based economy. The dynamics
can then no longer be reduced to the Darwinian schema.

Best,
Loet

Loet Leydesdorff 
Professor, University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR), 
Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam. 
Tel.: +31-20- 525 6598; fax: +31-842239111
[log in to unmask] ; http://www.leydesdorff.net/ 

-----Original Message-----
From: AFEEMAIL Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
Of BruceMcF
Sent: Thursday, August 04, 2011 10:50 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Conclusions based on a generalized Darwinist model

Paul write:

> Are we talking about the same book?
> See in Darwin's Conjecture:

> ***page VII:"We hold that there is no known alternative to Darwinism
as a general framework with which to analyze the evolution of social and
economic systems"

We evidently attach different meanings to "comprehensive". To my mind, the
above quote from the work *establishes* that this is not aiming to be a
comprehensive metatheory, since it is quite explicit about its problem
domain: the evolution of social and economic systems.

To my mind, analyzing the evolution of social and economic systems is an
*important* dimension to understanding the material provisioning of society,
but is not the sole dimension, and so I would view it as a problem-specific
metatheory rather than as a comprehensive metatheory.

For a specific example here in the US. If such a research program proves
fruitful, we might hope that it helps us to understand how effective
policies such as the establishment of the Social Insurance program helps
create an economic environment which fosters the emergence of determined
movements to undermine the program.

On the other hand, such a research program would be silent on why the Social
Insurance program is an effective solution to its target problems in the
first place. That would be received information from some other approach.

So it is with respect to this kind of situation where I'd view the
characterization of the approach set out in _Darwin's Conjecture_ as a
"comprehensive metatheory", without qualification, as overstating the case.

I'd note that the area of application may be narrower than expressed above,
since it is specifically about the evolution of reproducing populations, and
it is not clear to me that all social and economic systems *are* evolving
populations. Societies themselves may be evolving social systems where the
population specification breaks down, and where the extension of the
approach taken in the book may lay beyond the scope of the population
premise.

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