Mizzou Seminar on Evolutionary Models in Economics and Organization Theory

13 February 2010 at 11:55 pm 1 comment

| Peter Klein |

Thanks largely to the organizing efforts of my colleague and former O&M guest blogger Randy Westgren, a group here at Missouri is examining evolutionary models in economics and organization theory. The centerpiece is a philosophy of science seminar directed by André Ariew, a leading American scholar in the philosophy of biology, especially Darwin and evolutionary theory.

I’ll let Randy explain:

The course is PHL 9830. Normally it is a traditional philosophy of science seminar aimed at graduate students in the department of philosophy, but we hijacked it to examine a specific theme. The subject focus is evolutionary theory applied to biology, economics, and management. There are three general types of questions we ask, (a) clarification, (b) conceptual, and (c) general philosophy of science.

Briefly, these are:

a. What is the nature of evolutionary theory? How does natural selection differ from other evolutionary theories? What are the scope and limits of natural selection? What is evolutionary economics?

b. What does it mean to apply a theory to a variety of disciplines? Is evolutionary theory used as a metaphor? Are the various topics (economics, psychology) meant to be analogies to biological events? What are the rules for evaluating successful applications?

c. General Philosophy of Science: what does it mean that a theory explains? What are the criteria for evidence? What value should we place on reduction of one theory to another?

Each seminar session concentrates on a particular topic. Students are asked to write summaries of two to three of the readings per week and required to participate both in class and in the class blog. The blog is, at this point in time, one of the most active philosophy blogs in the blogosphere. Check it out!

Among the participants of both the blog and the class are students in philosophy, a graduate student in history, a graduate student of agricultural economics, and up to seven professors in economics and agricultural economics. There are several outside experts joining the seminar on specific topics. Here’s the schedule:

1/26, Natural Selection: Ariew

2/2, Population Thinking: Ariew

2/9, Evolutionary economics/management: Professor Randall Westgren, McQuinn Chair of Entrepreneurial Leadership, Department of Ag Econ, University of Missouri.

2/16, Reductionism, Ariew

2/25, Idealization: href=”http://www.phil.upenn.edu/faculty/weisberg”>Michael Weisberg, Department of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania.

3/2, Optimality: Collin Rice, Department of Philosophy, University of Missouri

3/9, Model building: Jay Odenbaugh, Department of Philosophy, Lewis and Clark University

3/16, Mathematical Explanation: Christopher Pincock, Department of Philosophy, Purdue University

3/24, Causation: Michael Hartsock, Department of Philosophy, Millikin University (as of Fall 2010)

4/8, (this is a Thursday meeting): Statistical explanation: Denis Walsh, Canadian Research Chair in Philosophy, Department of Philosophy and Institute of the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto.

4/13, Organism and Environment, Lynn Chiu, Department of Philosophy, University of Missouri.

4/20, Game Theory, Yasha Rohwer, Department of Philosophy, University of Missouri.

4/27, Laws and contingency, Joshua Smart, Department of Philosophy, University of Missouri

5/4, Evidence, Jenny Coon, Department of Philosophy, University of Missouri.

Visitors are welcome, both in person and on the blog.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Evolutionary Economics, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science, Strategic Management, Syllabus Exchange.

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