The Progress of Society: An Inquiry into an 'Old-Fashioned' Thesis of Walter Bagehot

The nineteenth century saw the rise of Darwinism as a new paradigm for the study of nature and man mans an integral part thereof. Many scholars were intent on removing the abstract principles and universal truths of early modern philosophy in favour of understanding man's nature through more scientifically-based methods. Walter Bagehot (1826?1877) was one of the leading exponents of this view. Our focus is on one of Bagehot's famous books, Physics and Politics, or thoughts on the application of the principles of `natural selection' and `inheritance' to political society. Physics and Politics can be seen as one of the most remarkable attempts to think the intertwining of politics and Darwinism. In our paper, we want to examine Bagehot's efforts to apply natural sciences to politics and philosophy and his focus on progress and the idea that such progress is inherited over generations. We want to examine in what way a Darwinian framework of thinking is actually used in Physics and Politics. Our conclusion is that perhaps Physics and Politics established a framework for the application of biological principles to political society, but it definitely did not do so for the application of Darwin's principle of natural selection
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DOI 10.1080/09608788.2011.563525
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I. Poulis (2007). Bioethics and Physiotherapy. Journal of Medical Ethics 33 (8):435-436.

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