Deconstructing Darwin: Evolutionary theory in context

Journal of the History of Biology 38 (1):137-152 (2005)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The topic of this paper is external versus internal explanations, first, of the genesis of evolutionary theory and, second, its reception. Victorian England was highly competitive and individualistic. So was the view of society promulgated by Malthus and the theory of evolution set out by Charles Darwin and A.R. Wallace. The fact that Darwin and Wallace independently produced a theory of evolution that was just as competitive and individualistic as the society in which they lived is taken as evidence for the impact that society has on science. The same conclusion is reached with respect to the reception of evolutionary theory. Because Darwin's contemporaries lived in such a competitive and individualistic society, they were prone to accept a theory that exhibited these same characteristics. The trouble is that Darwin and Wallace did not live in anything like the same society and did not formulate the same theory. Although the character of Victorian society may have influenced the acceptance of evolutionary theory, it was not the competitive, individualistic theory that Darwin and Wallace set out but a warmer, more comforting theory.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,923

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The Rhetoric of Evolutionary Theory.David J. Depew - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (4):380-389.
Popper and Darwinism.John Watkins - 1995 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 39:191-206.
Perspectives on the animal mind.Robert A. Skipper - 2004 - Biology and Philosophy 19 (4):483-487.
Darwin's evolutionary philosophy: The laws of change.Edward S. Reed - 1978 - Acta Biotheoretica 27 (3-4):201-235.
Darwin was a teleologist.James G. Lennox - 1993 - Biology and Philosophy 8 (4):409-421.
A Defense of Evolutionary Ethics.Robert Richards - 1986 - Biology and Philosophy 1 (3):265-293.
The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex.Charles Darwin - 1898 - New York: Plume. Edited by Carl Zimmer.


Added to PP

80 (#213,370)

6 months
10 (#308,281)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?