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John Gowdy

Department of Economics
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

An Evolutionary Perspective on Economics and Economic Policy

Monday, January 25, 2010
Science I 149, 5:30 PM (enrolled students report at 5:00 PM for attendance and overview)

Abstract

This lecture will be about the history of the cross-fertilization of ideas in economics and biology, the abandonment of biology and psychology by economists that came with the “marginalist revolution”, and the return of evolutionary thinking in contemporary economics.  The lecture will emphasize the behavioral revolution in economic theory and policy using examples from climate change economics and the valuation of biological diversity. Some preliminary thoughts about how an evolutionary perspective might help unify the behavioral critique of neoclassical theory will be offered.

Biography

My areas of interest include Ecological Economics, Evolutionary Economics, Welfare Theory and Policy, and Behavioral Economics. Within these sub-fields of economics my current work is in the areas of biodiversity valuation, climate change, and sustainable development in South Asia. I am a past president of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics and current President of the International Society for Ecological Economics. I have been a Fulbright scholar at the Economic University of Vienna, Leverhulme Professor at Leeds University and a visiting scholar at the Autonomous University in Barcelona, the University of Zurich, the Free University of Amsterdam, the University of Queensland and Tokushima University. I have published more than 150 academic articles and authored or co-authored 10 books. My most recent books are Microeconomic Theory Old and New: A Student’s Guide (Stanford U. Press, Spring 2010, Paradise for Sale: A Parable of Nature, co-authored with Carl McDaniel, University of California Press, and Frontiers in Ecological Economic Theory and Application, Edward Elgar Press, co-edited with Jon Erickson.

Assigned Reading

  1. Gowdy, J.  2008. “Behavioral Economics and Climate Change Policy” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 68: 632-644.

Supplemental Readings

  1. Gowdy, John and R. Juliá. 2010. “Global Warming Economics in the Long Run” Land Economics 86(1), 117-130.
  2. Gowdy, J. 2009. “Discounting, Ethics, and Options for Maintaining Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services”. In The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). (with Rich Howarth and Clem Tisdell) Chapter Six. On-line at TEEB website.
  3. van den Bergh, J. and J. Gowdy. 2009. “Economic Behavior, Institutions, and Organizations from a Group Selection Perspective” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 72, 1-20.

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