The invisible hand of natural selection, and vice versa

Biology and Philosophy 13 (3):427-442 (1998)

Abstract
Building on work by Popper, Schweber, Nozick, Sober, and others in a still-growing literature, I explore here the conceptual kinship between Adam Smith''s ''invisible hand'' and Darwinian natural selection. I review the historical ties, and examine Ullman -Margalit''s ''constraints'' on invisible-hand accounts, which I later re-apply to natural selection, bringing home the close relationship. These theories share a ''parent'' principle, itself neither biological no politico-economic, that collective order and well-being can emerge parsimoniously from the dispersed action of individuals. The invisible hand operates on ''memes'' the way natural selection operates on genes. Like Darwin''s concept, it brings together traditional opposites, ''nature'' and ''selection,'' forming a saltation-mitigating transition between biological instinct and full-blown conscious design. Herschel''s criterion of confirmation, which Darwin long strove to satisfy, is itself an invisible hand-like meme – a ''Midas effect'' revealing and rewarding the fittest theories, Darwin''s and Smith''s emphatically among them
Keywords invisible hand  natural selection  economics  conscious design  distributive-collective  Herschel criterion  evolutionary epistemology
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DOI 10.1023/A:1006538721601
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References found in this work BETA

Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life.David L. Hull - 1997 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (3):435-438.
The Logic of Scientific Discovery.Karl Popper - 1959 - Studia Logica 9:262-265.
Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge.Mary Hesse - 1962 - Philosophical Quarterly 15 (61):372-374.

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The 'Sub-Rational' in Scottish Moral Science.Toni Vogel Carey - 2011 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 9 (2):225-238.

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