Dr Pangloss and the best of all possible markets: evolutionary fantasies and justifications in contemporary economic discourse

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    Abstract

    The paper examines evolutionary myth-making in the economic discourse of contemporary neo-liberalism. It traces the translation of evolutionary concepts from the early twentieth century Darwinist synthesis to recent economic popularising, offering a close reading of Harford’s ‘Adapt’ (2011). Important points of passage in the development of ideas include the work of Dawkins, who moves from gene to ‘meme’ and Dennett, who insists on evolution as an algorithmic process. The paper argues that evolutionary myth-making carries a normative element, taking into economic discourse an ‘adaptionist’ position criticised in biology as Panglossian. It concludes with the suggestion that adaptionist arguments, if followed through, offer a powerful critique of neo-liberal ideals.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMyth and the Market
    Place of PublicationDublin
    PublisherUniversity College Dublin Business School
    Pages96-111
    ISBN (Print)9781905254859
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    EventMyth and the Market - Carlingford, Ireland, United Kingdom
    Duration: 19 Jun 201421 Jun 2014

    Conference

    ConferenceMyth and the Market
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    CityCarlingford, Ireland
    Period19/06/1421/06/14

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