Icons of repute: the attribution of Lamarckian and Darwinian evolutionary mechanisms in economics
Baskerville, Rachel F.
Victoria University of Wellington; now at University of Exeter
Victoria University of Wellington - School of Accounting and Commercial Law
Paul David's 1986 exposition on the QWERTY keyboard configuration gave rise not only to Stan Leibowitz and Stephen Margolis's "Fable of the Keys", but also to a consideration by Stephen J. Gould of the characteristics, and correct attribution, of Lamarckian versus Darwinian mechanisms of evolutionary change. This study draws attention to the following issues from this debate: is it correct to attribute the operation of forces of change in evolutionary economics as being Darwinian in nature? How did evolutionary dynamics in economics come to be described utilising concepts and nomenclature typical of organic or biological evolution? It is suggested that it was the extension of Veblen's advocacy of Darwinism as a "scientific methodology" which led to the adoption of Darwinism as an icon of evolutionary mechanisms, and gave rise to the invocation of Darwinian evolutionary mechanisms in economic theories. The basis for such invocation is re-examined and it is suggested the Lamarckian theory provides the more appropriate mechanism for evolutionary success or fitness in economic studies.