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I have a question that is more related to the history of evolutionary biology rather than the science itself, namely I am interested in knowing what might have been considered the 'orthodoxy' of the field during the period 1880-1890, predominantly in the United States.

If it makes any difference for anyone interested in contributing an answer, I am interested in the particular chronology in order to understand what was the backdrop for Thorstein Veblen's article "Why is Economics not an Evolutionary Science?" published in 1898 (JSTOR).

I won't mind having long bibliographical references, but I will be satisfied with short comprehensive accounts too.

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I encountered an insightful article that may address the origins of Veblen's work. Here is an excerpt:

A number of economists and other social scientists have addressed evolutionary explanations. There is a large and valuable literature that considers how humans have evolved in groups and how human propensities for altruism and cooperation have emerged, alongside more selfish and competitive tendencies.........But Veblen made an even more radical point, which is still difficult for many economists to swallow. He argued that the idea of the utility-maximizing individual is inconsistent with the principle of evolutionary explanation. This point remains pertinent, because the idea of a fixed utility function – even if it is one that has “social” or “altruistic” preferences – lacks a clear evolutionary and causal explanation of its origins. It is simply assumed.

Here is the link to the article: https://evonomics.com/imagine-economics-evolutionary-science/#:~:text=In%201898%2C%20the%20great%20American,the%20social%20and%20behavioral%20sciences.

I hope this helps!

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, but the linked article alludes to Veblen's commitment to Darwinism and its implications without any textual reference to what was the content of that 'Darwinism'. Is it a reference to Darwin's descent with modification and auxiliary arguments or is it a claim about the zeitgeist of the era? One cannot tell from what is written in the article. $\endgroup$ – user42582 Jul 4 at 19:08

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