Instinct in the '50s: The british reception of Konrad Lorenz's theory of instinctive behavior

Biology and Philosophy 19 (4):609-631 (2004)
At the beginning of the 1950s most students of animal behavior in Britain saw the instinct concept developed by Konrad Lorenz in the 1930s as the central theoretical construct of the new ethology. In the mid 1950s J.B.S. Haldane made substantial efforts to undermine Lorenz''s status as the founder of the new discipline, challenging his priority on key ethological concepts. Haldane was also critical of Lorenz''s sharp distinction between instinctive and learnt behavior. This was inconsistent with Haldane''s account of the evolution of language, and, according to Haldane, inconsistent with elementary genetics. British attitudes to the instinct concept changed dramatically in the wake of Daniel S. Lehraman''s 1953 critique of Lorenz, and by the 1960s Lorenz drew a clear distinction between his own views and those of the English-speaking ethologists. The inconsistencies between Lorenz''s ideas and the trends in contemporary evolutionary genetics that are reflected in Haldane''s critiques may help to explain why the Lorenzian instinct concept was unable to maintain itself in Britian.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy of Biology   Evolutionary Biology
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/sBIPH-004-0537-z
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
N. Tinbergen (1954). The Study of Instinct. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 5 (17):72-76.
Zing Yang Kuo (1921). Giving Up Instincts in Psychology. Journal of Philosophy 18 (24):645-664.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Jean-Sébastien Bolduc (2012). Behavioural Ecology's Ethological Roots. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (3):674-683.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Simon M. Huttegger (2007). Robustness in Signaling Games. Philosophy of Science 74 (5):839-847.
Ingo Brigandt (2005). The Instinct Concept of the Early Konrad Lorenz. Journal of the History of Biology 38 (3):571–608..

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

28 ( #111,105 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

5 ( #147,227 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.