The study of evolutionary theory proved its significant contribution to the development of a powerful explanation of the social phenomenon. Evolution is a complex item that, according to Darwin, includes three aspects: selection, variation, and retention. These abstract aspects should be honored because otherwise the explanation of social issues effect will not be adequate. The crucial factor is natural selection, which is the core of the social phenomenon. Apart from Darwin, Tom Lawson addressed the issue, though from the point of view of economists. The paper focuses on the analysis of sociological and evolutionary theory through the identification of natural selection argument that helped to understand social changes and study the view of the researchers on the issue.
The Explanation of a Social Phenomenon
The study of the evolutionary theory provides an insight into the way data passes from one entity to another and explains the reasons for some of them being more successful in passing or surviving on information, which is a basis of a social phenomenon (Than, 2015). The crucial issue is how the variety is replenished and generated in the population. Regarding the biological system, the answers are associated with genetic recombination and mutations while the evolution of social institutions concerns planning, innovations, and other mechanisms that crucially differ from the biological processes (Nelson 2006, p. 504). The second explanation of social phenomena concerns the issue of retaining and passing useful data that could solve definite adaptive problems. It follows directly from the assumption of people that, in the complex system of the population, there are some mechanisms that help with passing adaptive solutions. Thus, in social evolution, people may include various replications or imitations of rules, habits, routines, and customs. Another significant aspect is the fact that entities differ in their fecundity and longevity (Nelson 2006, p. 509). Consequently, some entities are more adaptive than others.
The principle of selection presupposes that an anterior set of entities interacts with the definite environment and transforms into the posterior set, all members of which are close to the members of the anterior set. Such phenomenon results in the posterior entities frequently depending on the environmental context (Hodgson 2010, 13). Consequently, the selection mechanism helps to adapt to the issues defined by the environmental factors. In this situation, innovation is a formation of new variants whereby the selection process is based on the way they are tested. Thus, fitness characteristics play an important role in selection when the optimal outcome is desirable or efficient. However, there is no simple analogy of the connection between fitness and traits regarding numerous areas of culture (Hodgson 2010, 15). The tail of a peacock would serve as a good example. The standard theory attempts to determine why on average a male peacock with a magnificent tail has more surviving offspring than a peacock with a puny tail (Hodgson 2010, 17). In this case, sexual selection plays a crucial role. Thus, the important factor is the identification of criteria, mechanisms, and features with the elements that are selected against or for. That is how the evolutional theory helps to develop a powerful explanation of the social phenomenon.
The Essential Features of Darwin’s Natural Selection
Natural selection is a crucial factor in explaining the social phenomenon. Darwin divided the process of natural selection into 4 components that include variation, inheritance, high rate of population growth, and reproduction and differential survival (Richards 1992, 34). Variation is based on the statement that organisms exhibit personal variation in behavior and appearance. For instance, hair colors, facial markings, the size of the body, or the number of offspring are possible variations. However, some traits have no variations: for example, the number of eyes in vertebrates (Richards 1992, 89). The next component, inheritance, demonstrates that some traits are passed from parents to their offspring. Such traits are called heritable and they form under the influence of environmental conditions. A high rate of population growth proves that the majority has more offspring each year, which can result in the local competition for resources. Finally, reproduction and differential survival are based on the fact that people have particular traits that are useful for competing for the resources and will have more developed offspring in future generations (Than 2015). Concerning human nature, the social phenomenon is reflected in the fact that people with peculiar variations will be favored over the others within the population (Rose & Steven 2000, 100). The features that confer the advantage to those people who have more offspring are adaptations. The trait has to possess heritable variants providing an advantage in the fight for the resources. Thus, if there is no demand, the trait does not undergo the process of natural selection.
The difficulty of fulfilling natural selection is associated with the work of 20th-century genetics. The scientists applied the mechanism of Darwin that allowed people to evaluate natural selection as the differential survival and genotypes’ reproduction in correspondence to the definite phenotypes (Rose & Steven 2000, 106). Natural selection can only work on the existing variant within the definite population. Such variants form under the mutation that is caused by the changes in the genetic code of traits. The possibility of mutation arises because of the change, and its advantages or disadvantages cannot be predicted.
There are several examples that help to understand the changes under natural selection. For instance, an industrial mechanism that affects different species, such as moths, in England is a good illustration. Previously, common moths had light patterns. Dark moths were an unusual phenomenon (Mayr 2009). The industrial revolution led to the increase of industrial waste that killed lichens, which caused the increase of dark moths and the decrease in the number of the light ones. In 1819, the first melanic moths appeared rapidly changing with time (Mayr 2009). Consequently, the light moths became common only in several industrial areas. Another example illustrates the adaptation of the population. The rat snake has various populations in different areas of eastern North America. Such a phenomenon is termed geographic races or subspecies. The populations include the only species because mating between the adjacent populations results in the species sharing a common gene pool (Mundra n.d.).
Thus, the enhancement of reproduction and survival in future generations is a crucial aspect of natural selection. An organism will actively struggle to survive and try to attain more useful characteristics from the parents that would further be passed to the offspring. The adaptive traits sometimes create mutations that lead to genetic variations, which is reflected in the following aspects: stabilizing selection, directional selection, and disruptive selection (Mundra n.d.). Natural selection has a positive effect on the evolution of animals because of the genetic makeup that it chooses to pass on to future generations. As a result, the newly formed adaptive traits help the organism to overcome obstacles and reproduce in the future (Mundra n.d.).
Natural selection is a prominent factor for all animals including humans. The researchers studied the human organism, in particular, DNA and its role in the immune function (Mundra n.d.). The selection of the immune system allows humans to adapt to the new forms of bacteria. The selection of egg and sperm allows producing successful offspring that can adapt to different kinds of environments. Natural selection ensures that these genes evolve and are passed to future generations, thus making them stronger. The positive factor of the phenomenon is also reflected in the formation of the defense gene that helps to escape and hide from predators or create a new camouflaging method (Mundra n.d.). Many experts believe that evolution and selection in humans may be stopped while others state that new organisms continue to appear, which will influence further reproduction.
The Contribution of Tony Lawson to the Evolution Theory and Natural Selection
Tony Lawson has been working on the methodological and philosophical critique in economics over the last 20 years (Lawson 2003, 4). The researcher emphasized the study of philosophical issues in science using the inductive-probabilistic and deductive-nomological models. The core of his work is the investigation of the appropriateness of natural science conceptualization for the social concept. It is difficult to assert that Lawson’s framework is helpful because his works are controversial, which can be illustrated with the help of his recent book titled Essays on the Nature and State of Modern Economics (Lawson 2003, 6). Lawson criticized the mainstream for failing to anticipate the global financial crisis because it was impossible within the social reality. Lawson asserts that ontology built into the methods fails. Regarding the nature of social material, he proved that evolutionary theory lacked predictive power. The effective prediction presupposes closure with the social system being an open and biological realm (Lawson 2003, 7). He was sure that if the nature of the social realm was such that the profitable prediction of the social outcome was not possible, then it was important to ignore the insights of ontology. Lawson also was sure that demonstrating the characteristic of dynamics and openness was typical for the social and biological domains. However, a deeper analysis of systematization as the natural selection mechanism in evolutionary biology demonstrates that there are parallels in the social realm (Lawson 2003, 12). Answering the question of whether these essential elements carry over to the socioeconomic realm, Lawson asserted that the biological example distilled the components essential to the natural selection mechanism. He presented that fact as a peculiarity of the general model, the specific example of which was a token.
Thus, Lawson viewed the evolutionary process of natural selection from the economist’s perspective. He was sure that it was interpreted as a process that in some way conformed to the natural selection model derived from the evolutionary biology of Darwin (Lawson 2003, 10). Evolutionary economics signals a universal approach to economic analysis.
The analysis of the sociological and evolutionary theories proved that natural selection is the core of the issues connected to social changes. The crucial aspect of natural selection is the improvement of reproduction and survival in future generations that justifies its positive core. Thus, in order to survive, an organism tries to acquire efficient characteristics from its parents and pass them to its offspring. Furthermore, Tony Lawson also regarded the issue of natural selection. He proved that the social world demonstrates that certain social phenomena can result from the evolutionary process, especially from the one that manifests the aspects of natural selection. On the whole, it is difficult to prove the helpfulness of Lawson’s framework: it supported the theory of Darwin though regarded it from the perspective of economists.