David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Journal of the History of Biology 41 (1):119 - 158 (2008)
Scholars studying the history of heredity suggest that during the 19th-century biologists and anthropologists viewed characteristics as a collection of blended qualities passed on from the parents. Many argued that those characteristics could be very much affected by environmental circumstances, which scholars call the inheritance of acquired characteristics or "soft" heredity. According to these accounts, Gregor Mendel reconceived heredity - seeing distinct hereditary units that remain unchanged by the environment. This resulted in particular traits that breed true in succeeding generations, or "hard" heredity. The author argues that polygenist anthropology (an argument that humanity consisted of many species) and anthropometry in general should be seen as a hardening of heredity. Using a debate between Philadelphia anthropologist and physician, Samuel G. Morton, and Charleston naturalist and reverend, John Bachman, as a springboard, the author contends that polygenist anthropologists hardened heredity by conceiving of durable traits that might reappear even after a race has been eliminated. Polygenists saw anthropometry (the measurement of humans) as one method of quantifying hereditary qualities. These statistical ranges were ostensibly characteristics that bred true and that defined racial groups. Further, Morton's interest in hybridity and racial mixing demonstrates that the polygenists focused as much on the transmission and recognition of "amalgamations" of characters as they did on racial categories themselves. The author suggests that seeing race science as the study of heritable, statistical characteristics rather than broad categories helps explain why "race" is such a persistent cultural phenomenon.
|Keywords||anthropology biology character eugenics heredity monogenism polygenism trait|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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
Aristotle (1984). The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation. Princeton University Press.
Robert J. Richards (2002). The Romantic Conception of Life Science and Philosophy in the Age of Goethe. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
Peter J. Bowler (1985). Evolution: The History of an Idea. Journal of the History of Biology 18 (1):155-157.
Robert Olby (1987). Origins of Mendelism. Journal of the History of Biology 20 (1):132-133.
John Farley (1984). Gametes and Spores: Ideas About Sexual Reproduction, 1750-1914. Journal of the History of Biology 17 (2):297-297.
Citations of this work BETA
Joshua M. Moritz (2012). Human Uniqueness, the Other Hominids, and “Anthropocentrism of the Gaps” in the Religion and Science Dialogue. Zygon 47 (1):65-96.
Similar books and articles
Carlos López-Beltrán (2004). In the Cradle of Heredity; French Physicians and L'Hérédité Naturelle in the Early 19th Century. Journal of the History of Biology 37 (1):39 - 72.
Ehud Lamm, Inheritance Systems. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2012 Edition).
Kostas Kampourakis (2013). Mendel and the Path to Genetics: Portraying Science as a Social Process. [REVIEW] Science and Education 22 (2):293-324.
Maria Kronfeldner (2009). If There is Nothing Beyond the Organic...: Heredity and Culture at the Boundaries of Anthropology in the Work of Alfred L. Kroeber. [REVIEW] NTM - Journal of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine 17 (2):107-134.
Author unknown (2008). Heredity and its Entities Around 1900. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A.
Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2000). Darwin on Variation and Heredity. Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3):425-455.
Valeria Mosini (2013). Proteins, the Chaperone Function and Heredity. Biology and Philosophy 28 (1):53-74.
Sheila Faith Weiss (2006). Human Genetics and Politics as Mutually Beneficial Resources: The Case of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics During the Third Reich. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 39 (1):41 - 88.
Ute Deichmann (2010). Gemmules and Elements: On Darwin's and Mendel's Concepts and Methods in Heredity. [REVIEW] Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 41 (1):85-112.
Michael Bulmer (1999). The Development of Francis Galton's Ideas on the Mechanism of Heredity. Journal of the History of Biology 32 (2):263 - 292.
Roger J. Wood & Vítězslav Orel (2005). Scientific Breeding in Central Europe During the Early Nineteenth Century: Background to Mendel's Later Work. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 38 (2):239 - 272.
Frank Kannetzky (2007). What Makes Cultural Heredity Unique? On Action-Types, Intentionality and Cooperation in Imitation. Mind and Language 22 (5):592–623.
Stephen G. Brush (2002). How Theories Became Knowledge: Morgan's Chromosome Theory of Heredity in America and Britain. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 35 (3):471 - 535.
Ida H. Stamhuis (2003). The Reactions on Hugo de Vries's "Intracellular Pangenesis"; The Discussion with August Weismann. Journal of the History of Biology 36 (1):119 - 152.
Added to index2011-05-29
Total downloads6 ( #322,537 of 1,725,598 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #349,437 of 1,725,598 )
How can I increase my downloads?