William James's Social Evolutionism in Focus

The Pluralist 6 (3):80-92 (2011)
It is well known that William James’s thinking was influenced by evolutionary theory and by Darwin’s theory of natural selection in particular. It is easy to misunderstand James’s evolutionary thinking, however, if one is tempted to read contemporary evolutionary views back into James. In this article I try to avoid such anachronism by carefully distinguishing James’s evolutionary views from some of their nearest conceptual neighbors. I focus in particular on James’s social evolutionism, especially as he expounds it in his 1880 essay “Great Men, Great Thoughts, and the Environment.”1 By distinguishing James’s social evolutionism from sociobiology, from social Darwinism, and from the theory of memes, I underscore ..
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DOI 10.5406/pluralist.6.3.0080
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Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2000). Darwin on Variation and Heredity. Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3):425-455.

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