Hayek’s Evolutionism

by Meyer, Brent Hedlund

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis examines F.A. Hayek’s evolutionary theory. Much of his work in this field can be seen as a rejection of the Austrian School of economics, of which he is a central contributor. This thesis begins with background on Austrian economics. Understanding the tenets of this school uncovers the controversy in Hayek’s evolutionism. Three important contentions follow. First, Hayek’s theory of cultural evolution is the extension of Lamarckism from the biological realm to the social arena. Lamarckian evolution is the ‘inheritance of acquired characteristics.’ Secondly, Hayek underestimates the contribution to evolutionary economics that is made by Charles Darwin. This thesis examines the reasoning for this underestimation, citing Hayek’s alignment with the Scottish moral philosophers and Darwinian rejection of individual choice as the contributing factors. Finally, this thesis reconciles Hayek’s group selection with methodological individualism and Austrian economics. This is done through Ulrich Witt’s reductionist method.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:hayek evolutionary theory group selection lamarckism methodological individualism


Date of Publication:01/01/2006

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