Evolutionary Social Theory and Political Economy. (Routledge: March 2023).

At long last I have finished my book Evolutionary Social Theory and Political Economy. Here is a pdf of the Introduction: EST and PE Introduction Poirot. The book has been submitted and accepted for publication by Routledge and will be published in the Economics as Social Theory series. It has officially passed the copy-editing stage and is now headed for production. I hope to follow up in a couple of years with a second volume (working title Evolutionary Social Theory and Transitions). I do not as of yet have a publication date though Routledge has expressed interest.

This project took on a life of its own and turned out differently than I had planned. For those of you have read my initial plenary posts on this book, you will note that it wound up taking a slightly different direction than initially planned. Firstly, I have split the project into two halves. Originally, Intended the book to consist of a theory half and an empirical-historical half. As noted above, my hope is to complete and publish the second half (working title Evolutionary Social Theory and Transitions), also with Routledge. This part addresses the initial rise of Evolutionary Social Theory in the form of Moral Philosophy in the Scottish Enlightenment and analyzes its subsequent consolidation, marginalization and resurrection in the Social Sciences. Secondly, I incorporated explicit discussion of Political Economy, a term which has by my count about 8 different possible definitions though some of them overlap. Thirdly, while I retained the idea of both Evolutionary Social Theory and Political Economy as social sciences, I became increasingly skeptical of the idea that the social sciences can or should be modeled after biology per se and especially of the idea that evolutionary approaches in the social sciences can or should be a form of Generalized Darwinism (see for example Geoffry Hodgson’s Darwin’s Conjecture). This is not, I stress, a critique of Darwin per se, whose contributions and relevance I discuss at some length in Chapter Two. The relationship between Biology and the Social Sciences, along with what is and isn’t meant by Science are complex issues I address in the book.

In distinguishing my position from that of “Generalized Darwinism”, which has become more or less the “orthodox-heterodox” view amongst Evolutionary Economists and is prevalent as well in other social sciences, I’m drawing more on the idea of the ideas of continuity and cultural emergence with respect to the relationship between the Social Sciences and Biology. I initially developed some of these ideas in a 2007 article “How Can Institutional Economics be an Evolutionary Science” (Journal of Economic Issues, March 2007), after which my responsibilities as Faculty Senate President and then Union President and then Grievance Officer made maintaining research difficult. In that article, I had referenced the extensive revival in Cultural Evolutionism in Anthropology (see for example the work of the late Robert Carneiro) which has strong parallels in Macro Sociology and in Comparative and International Political Economy, a connection which is drawn well by Christopher Chase Dunn. I also take some issue in my book with Critical Realism arguing instead for Classically (or Neo-Classical) Pragmatist foundations for the Social Sciences, or my preferred term “Critical Common Sensism.”

In taking up the issue of transitions in my second book, I take some issue with Andre Gunder Frank’s argument that Capitalism has existed for five thousand years. I plan to address three transitions: the rise of Capitalism, the rise of “actually existing Socialism” and the transition from “actually existing Socialism” to varieties of Capitalism.

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