Lost in Translation: Why Generalized Darwinism is a Misleading Strategy for Studying Socioeconomic Evolution



The article is based on Lewontin's distinction between transformational and variational evolution. Given that transformational evolution is dominant in the social realm while variational evolution reigns in the organic world, the question is if Hodgson and Knudsen's Generalized Darwinism bridges the ontological gap between the two types of evolution. It is argued that the three successive strategies of the authors—deconstruction of Lamarckism, appropriation of the Price equation, redefinition of the replication notion—are all based on controversial semantic innovations. Most importantly, it is shown that Generalized Darwinism, in its effort to address the transformational character of social evolution through the notion of generative replication, is compelled to radically restrict the importance of Darwinian natural selection.