Evolutionary Social Theory and Political Economy traces the origins, extension, marginalization and revival of evolutionary approaches to social theory from the Enlightenment through the beginning of the 21st century. It demonstrates how changes in understandings of social evolution corresponded to changes in definitions of Political Economy and how both reflected changes in the Philosophy of Science. This book is written for students and researchers alike in all the social sciences. Economists will benefit from understanding how ideas about evolution in Economics corresponded to ideas about evolution in other social sciences and Social Scientists outside of Economics will benefit from understanding how Economics has related to their discipline.



  1. Goal of this Study
  2. Scope and Method of this Study
  3. Plan of this study

Chapter One: The Origins of Evolutionary Social Theory in the Enlightenment

  1. Introduction
  2. Natural Philosophy and the Newtonian World View
  3. Civil, or Moral Philosophy
  4. Philosophical History and Political Economy in the Scottish and French Enlightenment
  5. Darwin’s influence on Philosophy of Science Conclusion

Chapter Two: The Development of Evolutionary Social Theory

  1. Introduction
  2. Philosophy of Science in the Early and Mid 19th Century
  3. Evolutionary Theory: Biological and Social in the 19th Century
  4. The Trajectory of Political Economy
  5. Darwin’s Biology
  6. The Ramifications of Darwin’s Theories
  7. Conclusion

Chapter Three: Social Evolutionism and Political Economy after Darwin

  1. Introduction
  2. Darwin’s Impact on Philosophy of Science
  3. The More General Theory of Sociology
  4. The End of Political Economy: Marx, Marshall and Veblen
  5. Conclusion

Chapter Four: The Dénouement of Evolutionary Social Theory

  1. Introduction
  2. Philosophy of Science in the early and mid 20th century: Logical Positivism and Popper
  3. Evolutionary Social Theory: Marginalization and Reaction in the Social Sciences
  4. Conclusion

Chapter Five: Evolutionary Social Theory in the late 20th Century: Back to the Center?

  1. Introduction
  2. Philosophy of Science: Neo-Positivism
  3. Ontology and Epistemology: Critical Realism and Critical Common Sensism
  4. Contemporary Evolutionary Biology: An Overview
  5. Biology and Evolutionary Social Theory
  6. The Neo-Evolutionary Synthesis
  7. Conclusion

Chapter Six: Conclusion