Structure, Evidence, and Heuristic : Evolutionary Biology, Economics, and the Philosophy of Their Relationship book cover
1st Edition

Structure, Evidence, and Heuristic
Evolutionary Biology, Economics, and the Philosophy of Their Relationship

ISBN 9780367465902
Published May 5, 2020 by Routledge
240 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book is the first systematic treatment of the philosophy of science underlying evolutionary economics. It does not advocate an evolutionary approach towards economics, but rather assesses the epistemic value of appealing to evolutionary biology in economics more generally.

The author divides work in evolutionary economics into three distinct, albeit related, forms: a structural form, an evidential form, and a heuristic form. He then analyzes five examples of work in evolutionary economics falling under these three forms. For the structural form, he examines the parallelism between natural selection and economic decision making, and the parallelism between natural selection and market competition. For the evidential form, he looks at the relationship between animal and human economic decision making, and the evolutionary explanation of diversity in human economic decision making. Finally, for the heuristic form, he focuses on the plausibility of equilibrium modeling in evolutionary ecology and economics. In this way, he shows that linking evolutionary biology and economics can make for a powerful methodological tool that can enable progress in our understanding of various economics questions.

Structure, Evidence, and Heuristic will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working in philosophy of science, philosophy of social science, evolutionary biology, and economics.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Three Forms of Evolutionary Economics

Chapter 2: Economic Choice as a Selective Process (The Structural Project I)

Chapter 3: Market Competition as a Selective Process (The Structural Project II)

Chapter 4: Of Macaques and Men: The Comparative Approach towards Economic Decision Making (The Evidential Project I)

Chapter 5: Not All the Same: The Selection-Based Approach towards Economic

Chapter 6: Equilibrium Modeling: Economics, Ecology, and Evolution (The Heuristic Project)


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Armin W. Schulz is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Kansas. His research concerns the implications of evolutionary biological considerations for the social and cognitive sciences. He is the author of Efficient Cognition: The Evolution of Representational Decision Making (2018), and over 20 published papers.


"Structure, Evidence, and Heuristic is a balanced treatment of the promise and challenges in connecting economics and evolutionary biology ... Its author represents the best kind of philosophy of science. Highly informed about the science, but by taking a step back and applying a meta-perspective unavailable to those of us who spend our time in the trenches of a specific field, Schulz is able to make intellectual connections that are both exciting and valuable."

The Quarterly Review of Biology

"Schulz addresses the value of the emerging interdisciplinary field of evolutionary economics by considering its contributions in three main areas—the structural, evidentiary, and heuristic. The result is a clear-eyed and thoughtful assessment of the merits of evolutionary economics that highlights both the contexts in which it is useful and those in which it is not. This book will be valuable for shaping the direction of the field, and to anyone who is interested in a strong framework for assessing a newly emerging interdisciplinary field."

Sarah F. Brosnan, Georgia State University, USA