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Evolutionary realism: a new ontology for economics

  • Economics
  • Mathematics
  • Philosophy


The renaissance in evolutionary economics in the past two decades has brought with it a great deal of theoretical development and interdisciplinary import. Much of this has been useful, but not all of it has been commensurate. In this paper, we make the case for the limits to theoretical developments that lack clearly specified ontological commitments by attempting an inductive synthesis of the ontological content of empirical generalizations in evolutionary economics. We call this 'evolutionary realism' and present it in three axioms - (1) all existences are bimodal matter-energy actualizations of ideas, (2) all existences associate, and (3) all existences are processes. We conclude with discussion of the sort of analytical framework that we might consistently build on these axioms; a three-level analytical structure of micro, meso and macro domains.

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