David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (1):40-49 (2011)
In this paper I propose a new interpretation of the British evolutionary synthesis. The synthetic work of J. B. S. Haldane, R. A. Fisher and J. S. Huxley was characterized by both an integration of Mendelism and Darwinism and the unification of different biological subdisciplines within a coherent framework. But it must also be seen as a bold and synthetic Darwinian program in which the biosciences served as a utopian blueprint for the progress of civilization. Describing the futuristic visions of these three scientists in their synthetic heydays, I show that, despite a number of important divergences, their biopolitical ideals could be biased toward a controlled and regimented utopian society. Their common ideals entailed a social order where liberal and democratic principles were partially or totally suspended in favor of bioscientific control and planning for the future. Finally, I will argue that the original redefinition of Darwinism that modern synthesizers proposed is a significant historical example of how Darwinism has been used and adapted in different contexts. The lesson I draw from this account is a venerable one: that, whenever we wish to define Darwinism, we need to recognize not only its scientific content and achievements but expose the other traditions and ideologies it may have supported
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References found in this work BETA
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David Barker (1989). The Biology of Stupidity: Genetics, Eugenics and Mental Deficiency in the Inter-War Years. British Journal for the History of Science 22 (3):347-375.
R. A. Fisher (1926). Eugenics: Can It Solve the Problem of Decay of Civilizations? The Eugenics Review 18 (2):128.
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