PhD defence V. (Vaios) Koliofotis

On 18 November 2021, V. Koliofotis will defend his PhD dissertation, entitled: ‘Evolutionary Explanations in Economics’.

Prof. dr. J.J. Vromen


Dr. C. Heilmann

Thursday 18 Nov 2021, 10:30 - 12:00
PhD defence
Senate Hall
Erasmus Building
Campus Woudestein
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On 18 November 2021, V. Koliofotis will defend his PhD dissertation, entitled: ‘Evolutionary Explanations in Economics’.

Within economics there has been a resurgence of interest in using evolution theory for the study of economic traits, similar to the way that it is applied in the biological sciences. This thesis concerns research topics in which economics, biology and philosophy overlap. It contains four essays in which economic choices and outcomes are related to evolutionary processes such as natural selection.  The proximate-ultimate distinction has been the cornerstone of evolutionary research. It is possible, however, to go beyond this distinction and pose the following question: Why did a particular proximate mechanism evolve rather than some other that could have produced a set of behaviours? In this dissertation I discuss how the mechanism selection question fits into current debates in biology, economics and philosophy.

In more detail, I present a methodological framework that can be applied to evolutionary research in economics and use the findings on methodology to analyze two traits that are of interest to economics: conspicuous consumption and social emotions. Conspicuous consumption is understood as a pattern of behavior marked by specific social learning mechanisms. Moreover, based on resources found in Robert Frank’s work, I propose an alternative red-beard explanation of human sociality. Social emotions are a common cause of a social behavior and a phenotypic marker and therefore cooperative behavior cannot be suppressed without also changing the marker. Finally, this thesis reinforces the case for the considerable value of the regression-based version of Hamilton’s rule in explaining the evolution of social traits.

The public defence will take place at the Senate Hall, 1st floor Erasmus Building, location campus Woudestein. The ceremony will begin exactly at 10.30 AM. In light of the solemn nature of the ceremony, we recommend that you do not take children under the age of 6 to the first part of the ceremony.

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