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Post-Darwinian Societies Seminar: Hugh Desmond, “Linking Darwinism to Economics via Policy Engineering”

2022-11-22@16:30-17:30 CET

Abstract: The economics that is considered “mainstream” receives epithets such as “Keynesian” or “Friedmanite” – but not “Darwinian”. Evolutionary thinking seems to have made remarkably few inroads in economics. Is this a fair assessment, and if so, how can we account for this in terms of the goals and types of explanation preferred respectively by economics and evolutionary science?

In this talk I introduce a third variable: an engineering approach to social policy. I discuss the little-known but significant history of how economics was related to eugenics in the early 20th century. It seems that the prestige accorded to eugenics in the early 20th century gave confidence to economists to reject laissez-faire and to adopt an engineering approach to the economy. Evolutionary scientists later repudiated eugenics, but economists retained the engineering approach to economics policy. In the talk I discuss how this can help explain why economists favor certain (non-evolutionary) types of explanation, and why economists, by and large, do not view contemporary evolutionary theory as being useful to their goals.

Registration is free, but required for participation via Microsoft Teams: please e-mail dina.geron@uclouvain.be.


16:30-17:30 CET


Online (Microsoft Teams)