My research focuses on the history of evolutionary theory in the broad cultural context with an emphasis on the relationship between evolutionary ideas and socio-political doctrines.
In my dissertation - La gauche évolutionniste: Spencer et ses lecteurs en France et en Italie (PUFC, 2014) - I examined how and why Herbert Spencer’s theories on social evolution inspired political doctrines that were opposed to his own liberal individualism. In France, the search for a solidarité backed up by the new evolutionary science led to an interpretation of Spencer’s organic analogy that promoted the welfare State. In Italy, Spencer’s most important followers developed a socialist, and even a Marxist reading of his theory. My comparative analysis of the diffusion and interpretation of Spencer's ideas in France and Italy highlights the importance of the historical and political context, and the role of key figures (e.g., Emile Durkheim and Enrico Ferri) in this process.
My second book - Cultural Evolution & The Free Market: Hayek's Legacy Revisited (accepted for publication, forthcoming at the University of Chicago Press) - focuses on Nobel Laureate in Economics F. A. von Hayek's theory of cultural group selection. I examine the reasons Hayek got interested in evolution and analyse his claims concerning the paralles between evolutionary biology and economics. I proceed to a detailed study of Hayek's theory of cultural evolution, which I compare to past developments (e.g., Darwin) and to recent research on social evolution (e.g., Richerson & Boyd). My analysis offers a fresh perspective on Hayek’s thought and an evaluation of key theoretical elements that are often overlooked. It contributes to the ongoing discussion of the relationship between evolution, economics and politics, as well as to the newly revived debate on cultural group selection.
Aside from the monographs described above, I published articles in peer-reviewd journals such as The Journal of the History of Biology, Science in Context, Biological Theory and The Journal of Bioeconmics. I also contributed to a number of collected volutmes, e.g., The Cambridge Companion to the Origin of Species, Evolution: The First Four Billion Years and The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Darwin. For further details see the Publications section.