'Catalyzing paradigmatic change in economics' with Prof David Sloan Wilson & panel

Past Event

17 May 2022, 4:30pm - 6:00pm

Online & Oxford Martin School
34 Broad Street (corner of Holywell and Catte Streets), Oxford, OX1 3BD

INET Oxford
© iStock/Leszek Glasner

Issues ranging from climate change, to widening economic inequalities, to AI, challenge many tenets and orthodoxies in economics.

A cogent argument exists for paradigmatic change in economic theory and practice, based on a combination of complex systems science, evolutionary science, and modern understandings of human well-being. Over the past decades these ideas have been increasingly well developed in academia, but thus far have failed to result in paradigmatic change. A way forward is to treat paradigmatic change as itself an exercise in multilevel cultural evolution.

Leading evolutionary theorist Prof. David Sloan Wilson will summarise this strategy, based on a new series of articles, co-authored with the economist Professor Dennis Snower, titled Rethinking the Theoretical Foundation of Economics. Professor Sloan Wilson will argue that paradigmatic change is indeed possible, even if it has been elusive in the past.

A panel of leading thinkers on new economic paradigms, Prof. Sir Paul Collier (co-author of Greed is Dead), Prof. Rebecca Henderson (author of Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire), and Nick Hanauer (entrepreneur, civic activist, and co-author of The Gardens of Democracy), will discuss the issues raised in the talk, and Prof. Eric Beinhocker (author of The Origin of Wealth), will moderate a discussion and debate with the audience.

This talk is organised by The Institute of New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School


This talk is live in-person and online

David sloan wilson standing

Professor David Sloan Wilson
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences and Anthropology, Binghamton University

David Sloan Wilson is an American evolutionary biologist and a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences and Anthropology at Binghamton University. He is co-founder of the Evolution Institute, and co-founder of the recent spinoff nonprofit Prosocial World.

Wilson started the Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) program at Binghamton University to unify diverse disciplines under the theory of evolution. Students in the program take evolution-themed courses in a variety of disciplines including biology, anthropology, psychology, bioengineering, philosophy, religion and the psychology of religion. Several other universities, including SUNY New Paltz have started a similar program.

Wilson is a prominent proponent of the concept of group selection (also known as multi-level selection) in evolution. He and Elliott Sober proposed a framework called multilevel selection theory, which challenges the more orthodox approach of gene-level selection and individual selection, in their book Unto Others. This framework argues that natural selection operates on a nested hierarchy of units, such as between genes within individuals, between individuals within groups, between groups within a multi-group population, and even between ecosystems (such as microbiomes) in multi-ecosystem populations. Each level of selection results in adaptations at that level and tends to be undermined by selection at lower levels. Hence the notion of multilevel selection.

Eric Beinhocker

Eric Beinhocker
Professor of Public Policy Practice, Blavatnik School of Government

Eric is also the founder and Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the University’s Oxford Martin School.

Paul Collier

Sir Paul Collier
Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government

Sir Paul is also a Professorial Fellow of St Antony’s College. He is currently a Professeur invité at Sciences Po and a Director of the International Growth Centre.

Rebecca Henderson

Rebecca Henderson
John and Natty McArthur University Professor at Harvard University

Rebecca is one of 25 University Professors at Harvard, a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a fellow of both the British Academy and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her research explores the degree to which the private sector can play a major role in building a more sustainable economy.

Nick Hanauer

Nick Hanauer
Business leader, entrepreneur and venture capitalist

Nick has founded, co-founded, or invested in dozens of companies. In recent years, he has established himself as a civic innovator, public speaker, and fierce critic of America’s growing income inequality.