Henry Charlton Bastian's support for spontaneous generation is shown to have developed from his commitment to the new evolutionary science of Darwin, Spencer, Huxley and Tyndall. Tracing Bastian's early career development shows that he was one of the most talented rising young stars among the Darwinians in the 1860s. His argument for a logically necessary link between evolution and spontaneous generation was widely believed among those sympathetic to Darwin's ideas. Spontaneous generation implied materialism to many, however, and it had (...) associations in Britain with radical politics and amateur science. Huxley and the X Club were trying to create a public posture of Darwinism that kept it at arm's length from those negative associations. Thus, the conflict that developed when Huxley and the X Club opposed Bastian was at least as much about factional in-fighting among the Darwinians as it was about the experiments under dispute. Huxley's strategy to defeat Bastian and define his position as "non-Darwinian" contributed significantly to the shaping of Huxley's famous address "Biogenesis and Abiogenesis." Rhetorically separating Darwinism from Bastian was thus responsible for Huxley's first clear public statement that a naturalistic origin of life was compatible with Darwin's ideas, but only in the earth's distant past. The final separation of the discourse on the meaning of Brownian movement and "active molecules" from any possible link with spontaneous generation also grew out of Huxley's strategy to defeat Bastian. Clashes between Bastian and the X Club are described at the BAAS, the Royal Society, and in the pages of "Nature" and other journals. (shrink)
Both Adam Smith and Herbert spencer, albeit in quite different ways, have been enormously influential in what we today take to be philosophies of modern capitalism. Surprisingly it is Spencer, not Smith, who is the individualist, perhaps an egoist, and supports a "night watchman" theory of the state. Smith's concept of political economy is a notion that needs to be revisited, and Spencer's theory of democratic workplace management offers a refreshing twist on contemporary libertarianism.
Starting from R. K. Merton's now classic criticism of 'holistic' functionalism, i.e. of a functionalism which postulates social unity, universality and functional in-dispensability, the author stresses certain implications of this criticism more than they have been stressed hitherto. Classical and holistic functionalism) from H. Spencer, B. Malinowski, A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, etc to T. Parsons, postulates certain total unities (a global culture, an integrated system, etc.) in which each item (existence, actions, structures, etc.) is considered and defined on the grounds (...) of its consequences for the maintenance of the system as a whole; therefore holistic functionalism as a method is, in effect, the study of the consequences of the system on the items that compose it, since each of these items is defined within the sphere of the system and of its integrative functions. Merton's 'neo-functionalism', on the other hand, is remarkable not only in that it takes into account the 'dysfunctional' and 'nonfunctional' consequences of certain items on the system, but more especially because, within the context of functional analysis, it stresses the possible existence of structural substitutes and alternatives of functions, and therefore of latent structures which are foreign to objective functional consequences, as well as being able to deal with unanticipated and unexpected items and their consequences on the system. 'Neo-functionalism', which is susceptible of further development, is not limited to the study of the consequences of the system on its items: it can also reverse this scheme and study the consequences of certain items on the system. Merton's criticism of holistic functionalism therefore implies a broadening of the scientific resources of this method and a renewal of its interpretative scheme, thanks to which functional analysis ceases to appear as 'the* method of explaining sociology as a science, and becomes an interpretative method which complements the analysis of social structures and relations. Seen in this light the concept of structure becomes emancipated and independent of the concept of system and function; whereas, within the framework of universal functionalism, it was ancillary to the concept of function. Finally, latent structures and unconscious structures, conditions of possibility and subjective dispositions are favourable to social structures and social relations, not excluding those that are neither visible nor observable. This analysis, the author notes, is extremely meaningful and has great possibilities of development, especially in view of the structuralism recently to be noted in the human and social sciences: anthropology, history, linguistics, etc. (shrink)
From Bishop Wilberforce in the 1860s to the advocates of "creation science" today, defenders of traditional mores have condemned Darwin's theory of evolution as a threat to society's values. Darwin's defenders, like Stephen Jay Gould, have usually replied that there is no conflict between science and religion--that values and biological facts occupy separate realms. But as James Rachels points out in this thought-provoking study, Darwin himself would disagree with Gould. Darwin, who had once planned on being a clergyman, was convinced (...) that natural selection overthrew our age-old religious beliefs. Created from Animals offers a provocative look at how Darwinian evolution undermines many tenets of traditional philosophy and religion. James Rachels begins by examining Darwin's own life and work, presenting an astonishingly vivid and compressed biography. We see Darwin's studies of the psychological links in evolution (such as emotions in dogs, and the "mental powers" of worms), and how he addressed the moral implications of his work, especially in his concern for the welfare of animals. Rachels goes on to present a lively and accessible survey of the controversies that followed in Darwin's wake, ranging from Herbert Spencer's Social Darwinism to Edward O. Wilson's sociobiology, and discusses how the work of such influential intellects as Descartes, Hume, Kant, T.H. Huxley, Henri Bergson, B.F. Skinner, and Stephen Jay Gould has contributed to--or been overthrown by--evolutionary science. Western philosophy and religion, Rachels argues, have been shaken by the implications of Darwin's work, most notably the controversial idea that humans are simply a more complex kind of animal. Rachels assesses a number of studies that suggest how closely humans are linked to other primates in behavior, and then goes on to show how this idea undercuts the work of many prominent philosophers. Kant's famous argument that suicide reduces one to the level of an animal, for instance, is meaningless if humans are, in fact, animals. Indeed, humanity's membership in the animal kingdom calls into question the classic notions of human dignity and the sacredness of human life. What we need now, Rachels contends, is a philosophy that does not discriminate between different species, one that addresses each being on an individual basis. With this sweeping survey of the arguments, the philosophers, and the deep implications surrounding Darwinism, Rachels lays the foundations for a new view of morality. Vibrantly written and provocatively argued, Created from Animals offers a new perspective on issues ranging from suicide to euthanasia to animal rights. (shrink)
Evolutionary ethics has a long history, dating all the way back to Charles Darwin.1 Almost immediately after the publication of the Origin, an immense interest arose in the moral implications of Darwinism and whether the truth of Darwinism would undermine traditional ethics. Though the biological thesis was certainly exciting, nobody suspected that the impact of the Origin would be confined to the scientific arena. As one historian wrote, 'whether or not ancient populations of armadillos were transformed into the species that (...) currently inhabit the new world was certainly a topic about which zoologists could disagree. But it was in discussing the broader implications of the theory...that tempers flared and statements were made which could transform what otherwise would have been a quiet scholarly meeting into a social scandal' (Farber 1994, 22). Some resistance to the biological thesis of Darwinism sprung from the thought that it was incompatible with traditional morality and, since one of them had to go, many thought that Darwinism should be rejected. However, some people did realize that a secular ethics was possible so, even if Darwinism did undermine traditional religious beliefs, it need not have any effects on moral thought.2 Before I begin my discussion of evolutionary ethics from Darwin to Moore, I would like to make some more general remarks about its development.3 There are three key events during this history of evolutionary ethics. First, Charles Darwin published On the Origin of the Species (Darwin 1859). Since one did not have a fully developed theory of evolution until 1859, there exists little work on evolutionary ethics until then.4 Shortly thereafter, Herbert Spencer (1898) penned the first systematic theory of evolutionary ethics, which was promptly attacked by T.H. Huxley (Huxley 1894). Second, at about the turn of the century, moral philosophers entered the fray and attempted to demonstrate logical errors in Spencer's work; such errors were alluded to but never fully brought to the fore by Huxley. These philosophers were the well known moralists from Cambridge: Henry Sidgwick (Sidgwick 1902, 1907) and G.E. Moore (Moore 1903), though their ideas hearkened back to David Hume (Hume 1960). These criticisms were so strong that the industry of evolutionary ethics was largely abandoned (though with some exceptions) for many years.5 Third, E.O. Wilson, a Harvard entomologist, published Sociobiology: The New Synthesis in 1975 (Wilson E.O. 1975), which sparked renewed interest in evolutionary ethics and offered new directions of investigation. These events suggest the following stages for the history of evolutionary ethics: development, criticism and abandonment, revival. In this paper, I shall focus on the first two stages, since those are the ones on which the philosophical merits have already been largely decided. The revival stage is still in progress and we shall eventually find out whether it was a success. (shrink)
This essay examines D. G. Ritchie's claim that Principally, it endeavours to determine what Ritchie means by and what kind of utilitarianism he thinks evolutionary theory vindicates. With respect to the kind of utilitarianism vindicated, I will show how he tries to fortify Millian liberal utilitarianism with new liberal values such as self-realization and common good. Ritchie's intellectual debts were eclectic and included mostly Mill, T. H. Green, Hegel and Herbert Spencer.
Abstract Residential subdivisions governed democratically by homeowners? associations often fall short of their residents? expectations. The fault may lie in the developers? practice of subdividing rather than leasing residential land. Given the widespread success of land leasing in commercial real estate, subdividing residential land seems anomalous, and may be explained by a variety of public policies enacted since World War II that have constrained developers to subdivide rather than lease land for residential purposes. By promoting subdivision, these policies have subjected (...) homeowners to the obsessive rule making, conflict, and counterproductive decision making that characterize democratic institutions. Entrepreneurial management, on the other hand, as practiced in multi?tenant commercial properties, has the potential of promoting true residential ?community.? (shrink)
It should be clear that Lyell's scientific contemporaries would hardly have agreed with Robert Munro's remark that Antiquity of Man created a full-fledged discipline. Only later historians have judged the work a synthesis; those closer to the discoveries and events saw it as a compilation — perhaps a “capital compilation,”95 but a compilation none the less. Its heterogeneity made it difficult to judge as a unity, and most reviewers, like Forbes, concentrated on the first part of Lyell's trilogy. The chapters (...) on glaciation were admired by Lyell's friends but had relatively little appeal to more general readers. His discussion of the species question hedged far too much to please those who accepted the cogency of Darwin's evidence and arguments. This last section of the book blatantly lacks originality or commitment and certainly has no claim to classical status in anthropology.We are left, then, with the first twelve chapters, for it was this portion that dictated the book's title and that amassed the available evidence favoring the antiquity of the human species. Did it do anything more than marshall the evidence that others had discovered? I think not. Lyell could write with style and verve. Principles of Geology is a remarkably readable book. But Antiquity is the work of a geologist, not of a systematic student of man. Despite its occasional touches of power, it never captures the freshness and immediacy of Lubbock's Pre-historic Times nor the theoretical brilliance of E. B. Tylor's Researches into the Early History of Mankind (1865).96 Antiquity utilizes little of the comparative method whereby Lyell's contemporaries used data from modern “savagery” to elaborate the possible social functions of the prehistoric remains being uncovered. It contains little social theory and has virtually no integrated framework. Even the first twelve chapters do not really hang together. As Hooker, commenting to Darwin on Lubbock's review, sadly wrote: “Lubbock in [the] N[atural] H[istory] Review, had in a note called attention to Lyell's ... ‘doing injustice’ to Prestwich & Falconer. I modified this expression ‘injustice’ in Lubbock's paper (which was friendly and apologetic). I am deeply sorry for it, but what can one do? I do think Lyell's first XII chapters a complete mess.”97 In another letter to Darwin, Hooker described this first portion of Antiquity as “confused and confusing.”98Part of the problem, of course, lay in the subject's novelty for Lyell and for most of his contemporaries. At a deeper level, however, I believe that the book accurately reflects Lyell's uncertainties about Darwin's work and its implications for man.99 Leonard Wilson's edition of Lyell's Scientific Journals provides a unique insight into Lyell's mind during the years just before he began to write Antiquity.100 Preoccupied with the human implications of evolutionary biology, Lyell was not clear how many of those implications were compatible with his deep convictions about the dignity of man's place in the cosmos. With a certain naiveté, Lyell complained in 1873 that many of his readers had failed to see the “natural connections” among the three portions of Antiquity.101 Connections could indeed be drawn between man's antiquity and his evolutionary origins; Lyell's private Scientific Journals movingly demonstrate that he was well aware of this fact. But he never fully made the connections in his published writings. Antiquity of Man is more appropriately seen as the last gasp of the heroic period in British geology than as the opening salvo in a new, post-Darwinian anthropological synthesis. Between the founding of the Geological Society of London in 1807 and the middle of the nineteenth century, geology was recognized as one of the most exciting and innovative scientific fields in Britain.102 Lyell himself had contributed much to that drama, and by the 1860's he was a public figure of venerable proportions. More then any other man he represented a geology that had extended the boundaries of process, time, and life. The fundamental achievements of Lyell and his colleagues had been assimilated into the wider Victorian consciousness, yet the earlier public debates about “genesis and geology” had left untouched in its essentials the concept of Man as a moral, responsible, created being.103Lyell never abandoned this view of his own species, and in 1863 it was a completely responsible creature which, under the weight of empirical evidence, Lyell admitted had lived on earth far longer than had previously been thought. Certainly this more generous allowance for human existence was constitutive to what Burrow calls the evolutionary social theory of midcentury Britain.104 Unlike Lyell, the younger representatives of this anthropology quietly accepted both man's antiquity and his aboriginal animality. Herbert Spencer's Principles of Psychology (1855), as well as the other volumes of his grand Synthetic Philosophy, presented as part of the cosmic process the development of human from prehuman beings.105 Tylor's discussion of what in his Researches (1865) he called the “gesture-language” presupposed the gradual and de novo origin of language in early human populations.106 Lubbock's young and polished mind was untroubled by the human implications of Darwin's work, and he cast his Prehistoric Times into such a perfect mold that it and its companionpiece (On the Origin of Civilization, 1870) went through seven editions each between 1865 and World War I, with their original theoretical structures intact. In a way that Lyell could not grasp, Lubbock was intrigued by questions concerning the origins of moral and religious beliefs and did not flinch at the thought of an amoral, atheistic creature as an ancestor.107 Indeed, as the German naturalist Carl Vogt pointed out in his Lectures on Man, translated into English the year after Antiquity, both Darwin's theories and the primitive flint knives of the Stone Age bore witness to a time beyond that imaginable from the condition of the lowest present-day “savage”:From such a low condition [little better than anthropomorphous apes], compared to which that of the so-called savages of the old and new world is a refined civilisation, has the human species gradually extricated itself, in a bitter struggle for existence, which it was well able to maintain, by being gifted with a larger amount of brain and intelligence than that possessed by the surrounding animal world.108The easy integration of biological and social themes was perhaps the distinguishing hallmark of Victorian anthropology of the 1850's and 1860's. After his fashion, Lyell got both themes into Antiquity, but he carefully separated them with a seven-chapter wall of glacial ice. Lyell's anthropology was not that of a thoroughgoing evolutionist like Lubbock, Tylor, or Spencer. For Lyell prehistoric man was not a product of biological evolution. Rude and superstitious he may have been, but he possessed ritual and a belief in a future state, and thus deserved “the epithet of ‘noble,’ which Dryden gave to what he seems to have pictured to himself as the primitive condition of our race: as Nature first made man/when wild in woods the noble savage ran.”109As a systematic argument, Lyell's book was at best a significant failure. As a popularization, it was a success — largely because of the personal stature of its author and the particular moment of its appearance. It helped establish the fact of man's antiquity with a wider Victorian audience, in itself no mean achievement. But Lyell was unable to exploit the fuller implications of his material in the service of a secular science of man. Ironically, he exploited only his colleagues' discoveries. Though the aging Lyell, with failing eyesight but unfailing mental powers, can still be seen as a man of considerable importance, his Antiquity belongs to the carefully circumscribed world of British geology rather than to the less disciplined world of Victorian anthropology. (shrink)