Article

Advancing Evolutionary Explanations in Economics: The Limited Usefulness of Tinbergen's Four‐Question Classification

Jack Vromen

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Economics

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780195189254
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780198614128 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195189254.003.0012

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Advancing Evolutionary Explanations in Economics: The Limited Usefulness of Tinbergen's Four‐Question Classification

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In this article, it is argued that Niko Tinbergen's (1963) four-question classification might be an even better antidote than Mayr's distinction against misunderstandings that hamper making headway with evolutionary theorizing in economics. Tinbergen's four-question classification, it is argued, can be seen as a further refinement of Mayr's distinction. Tinbergen's classification is used here as a sorting device. It is used not only to dispel misunderstandings of evolutionary theorizing, but also to warn against sketching all too simple evolutionary scenarios in evolutionary explanations. Tinbergen's classification might also help in understanding what evolutionary explanations can and cannot explain. It might be instrumental in sorting out different sorts of questions that might legitimately be asked about behavior and that might call for different answers.

Keywords: Niko Tinbergen; Mayr; economics; evolutionary explanations; behavior

Article.  14384 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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