•  156
    Darwin's principles of divergence and natural selection: Why Fodor was almost right
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (1): 256-268. 2012.
    In a series of articles and in a recent book, What Darwin Got Wrong, Jerry Fodor has objected to Darwin’s principle of natural selection on the grounds that it assumes nature has intentions.1 Despite the near universal rejection of Fodor’s argument by biologists and philosophers of biology (myself included),2 I now believe he was almost right. I will show this through a historical examination of a principle that Darwin thought as important as natural selection, his principle of divergence. The p…Read more
  •  152
    Several scholars and many religiously conservative thinkers have recently charged that Hitler’s ideas about race and racial struggle derived from the theories of Charles Darwin (1809-1882), either directly or through intermediate sources. So, for example, the historian Richard Weikart, in his book From Darwin to Hitler , maintains: “No matter how crooked the road was from Darwin to Hitler, clearly Darwinism and eugenics smoothed the path for Nazi ideology, especially for the Nazi stress on expan…Read more
  •  146
    Michael Ruse's Design for Living
    Journal of the History of Biology 37 (1). 2004.
    The eminent historian and philosopher of biology, Michael Ruse, has written several books that explore the relationship of evolutionary theory to its larger scientific and cultural setting. Among the questions he has investigated are: Is evolution progressive? What is its epistemological status? Most recently, in "Darwin and Design: Does Evolution have a Purpose?," Ruse has provided a history of the concept of teleology in biological thinking, especially in evolutionary theorizing. In his book, …Read more
  •  124
    Haeckel’s embryos: fraud not proven
    Biology and Philosophy 24 (1): 147-154. 2009.
    Through the last half of the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth, no scientist more vigorously defended Darwinian theory than the German Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919). More people learned of the new ideas through his voluminous publications, translated into numerous languages, than through any other source, including Darwin’s own writings. He enraged many of his contemporaries, especially among the religiously orthodox; and the enmity between evolutionary theory and religious funda…Read more
  •  112
    Darwin's metaphysics of mind
    In V. Hoesle & C. Illies (eds.), Darwin and Philosophy, Notre Dame University Press. pp. 166-80. 2005.
    Our image of Darwin is hardly that of a German metaphysician. By reason of his intellectual tradition—that of British empiricism—and psychological disposition, he was a man of apparently more stolid character, one who could be excited by beetles and earthworms but not, we assume, by abstruse philosophy. Yet Darwin constructed a theory of evolution whose conceptual grammar expresses and depends on a certain kind of metaphysics. During his youthful period as a romantic adventurer, he sailed to exo…Read more
  •  102
    Darwin’s place in the history of thought: A reevaluation
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106 (Supplement 1): 10056-10060. 2009.
    Scholars have usually given Darwin’s theory a neo-Darwinian interpretation. A more careful examination of the language of Darwin’s notebooks and the language of the Origin of Species indicates that he reconstructed nature with a definite purpose: the final goal of man as a moral creature. In the aftermath of the Origin, Darwin, however, became more circumspect.
  •  94
    Ernst Haeckel’s popular book Nat¨urliche Sch¨opfungs- geschichte (Natural history of creation, 1868) represents human species in a hierarchy, from lowest (Papuan and Hottentot) to highest (Caucasian, including the Indo-German and Semitic races). His stem-tree (see Figure 1) of human descent and the racial theories that accompany it have been the focus of several recent books—histories arguing that Haeckel had a unique position in the rise of Nazi biology during the first part of the 20th century.…Read more
  •  79
    Justification through biological faith: A rejoinder (review)
    Biology and Philosophy 1 (3): 337-354. 1986.
    Though I have not found enough of the latter to test out this bromide, I am sensible of the value bestowed by colleagues who have taken such exacting care in analyzing my arguments. While their incisive observation and hard objections threaten to leave an extinct theory, I hope the reader will rather judge it one strengthened by adversity. Let me initially expose the heart of my argument so as to make obvious the shocks it must endure. I ask the reader to grant that altruistic behavior can be em…Read more
  •  73
    Dutch objections to evolutionary ethics
    Biology and Philosophy 4 (3): 331-343. 1989.
    While strolling the streets of Amsterdam, Sidney Smith, the renowned editor of the Edinburgh Review, called the attention of his companion to two Dutch housewives who were leaning out of their windows and arguing with one another across the narrow alley that separated their houses. Smith remarked to his companion that the two women would never agree. His friend thought the seasoned editor had in mind the stubborn Dutch character. No, said Smith. Rather it was because they were arguing from diffe…Read more
  •  72
    When Charles Darwin (1859, 482) wrote in the Origin of Species that he looked to the “young and rising naturalists” to heed the message of his book, he likely had in mind individuals like Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), who responded warmly to the invitation (Haeckel, 1862, 1: 231-32n). Haeckel became part of the vanguard of young scientists who plowed through the yielding turf to plant the seed of Darwinism deep into the intellectual soil of Germany. As Haeckel would later observe, the seed flourish…Read more
  •  70
    Darwin's theory of natural selection and its moral purpose
    In Michael Ruse & Robert J. Richards (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the "Origin of Species", Cambridge University Press. 2009.
    Thomas Henry Huxley recalled that after he had read Darwin’s Origin of Species, he had exclaimed to himself: “How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!” (Huxley,1900, 1: 183). It is a famous but puzzling remark. In his contribution to Francis Darwin’s Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Huxley rehearsed the history of his engagement with the idea of transmutation of species. He mentioned the views of Robert Grant, an advocate of Lamarck, and Robert Chambers, who anonymously published Ves…Read more
  •  69
    In 1971, Daniel Gasman saw published his Scientific Origins of National Socialism: Social Darwinism in Ernst Haeckel and the German Monist League, the dissertation he had produced at the University of Chicago two years before. That book argued that Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919), the great champion of Darwinism in Germany, had special responsibility for contributing to Nazi extermination biology. Gasman stacked up the evidence: that Haeckel’s Darwinian monism (which held that no metaphysical distinct…Read more
  •  69
    Ideology and the history of science
    Biology and Philosophy 8 (1): 103-108. 1993.
    discipline a general science of our "intellectual faculties, their principal phenomena, and the more remarkable circumstances of their activities" (1801, p. 4). Convinced of the sensationalist epistemology of Locke and Condillac, Destutt de Tracy believed one could resolve all ideas into the sensations that produced them and thereby test their soundness. The sensationalist assumptions of his project led him to propose that "ideology is a part of zoology" (1801, p. 1), and he consequently paid cl…Read more
  •  64
    Many revolutionary proposals entered the biological disciplines during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, theories that provided the foundations for today’s science and gave structure to its various branches. Cell theory, evolutionary theory, and genetics achieved their modern form during this earlier time. The period also saw a variety of new, auxiliary hypotheses that supplied necessary supports for the more comprehensive theories. These included ideas in morphology, embryology, sys…Read more
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  •  49
    I exhort you never to debase the moral currency or to lower the standard of rectitude, but to try others by the final maxim that governs your own lives and to suffer no man and no cause to escape the undying penalty which history has the power to inflict on wrong.2 In 1902, the year after Acton died, the president of the American Historical association, Henry Lea, in dubious celebration of his British colleague, responded to the exordium with a contrary claim about the historian’s obligation, na…Read more
  •  41
    Our image of Herbert Spencer is that of a bald, dyspeptic bachelor, spending his days in rooming houses, and fussing about government interference with individual liberties. Beatrice Webb, who knew him as a girl and young woman recalls for us just this picture. In her diary for January 4, 1885, she writes: Royal Academy private view with Herbert Spencer. His criticisms on art dreary, all bound down by the “possible” if not probable. That poor old man would miss me on the whole more than any othe…Read more
  •  38
    In 1853, two decades after Goethe’s death, Hermann von Helmholtz, who had just become professor of anatomy at Königsberg, delivered an evaluation of the poet=s contributions to science.1 The young Helmholtz lamented Goethe=s stubborn rejection of Newton =s prism experiments. Goethe=s theory of light and color simply broke on the rocks of his poetic genius. The tragedy, though, was not repeated in biological science. In Helmholtz=s estimation, Goethe had advanced in this area two singular and “un…Read more
  •  34
    Just before Ernst Haeckel’s death in 1919, historians began piling on the faggots for a splendid auto-da-fé. Though more people prior to the Great War learned of Darwin’s theory through his efforts than through any other source, including Darwin himself, Haeckel has been accused of not preaching orthodox Darwinian doctrine. In 1916, E. S. Russell, judged Haeckel's principal theoretical work, Generelle Morphologie der Organismen, as "representative not so much of Darwinian as of pre-Darwinian tho…Read more
  •  34
    Alan C. LoveDarwinian calisthenicsAn athlete engages in calisthenics as part of basic training and as a preliminary to more advanced or intense activity. Whether it is stretching, lunges, crunches, or push-ups, routine calisthenics provide a baseline of strength and flexibility that prevent a variety of injuries that might otherwise be incurred. Peter Bowler has spent 40 years doing Darwinian calisthenics, researching and writing on the development of evolutionary ideas with special attention to…Read more
  •  33
    Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior
    Journal of the History of Biology 22 (2): 361-367. 1989.
  •  29
    If religion means a commitment to a set of theological propositions regarding the nature of God, the soul, and an afterlife, Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) was never a religious enthusiast. The influence of the great religious thinker Friedrich Daniel Schleiermacher (1768-1834) on his family kept religious observance decorous and commitment vague.2 The theologian had maintained that true religion lay deep in the heart, where the inner person experienced a feeling of absolute dependence. Dogmatic tene…Read more
  •  27
    Though Darwin had formulated his theory of evolution by natural selection by early fall of 1837, he did not publish it until 1859 in the Origin ofSpecies. Darwin thus delayed publicly revealing his theory for some twenty years, Why did he wait so long'? Initially this may not seem an important or interesting question, but many historians have so regarded it, They have developed a variety of historiographically different explanations. This essay considers these several explanations, though with a…Read more
  •  26
    The term “race” and its equivalent in several languages gained currency in the seventeenth century to describe descendents of the same family or house. The word was also used to refer to a tribe or nation, as in the Germanic races. Only in the nineteenth century did the term take on the taxonomic meaning of a distinctive group or variety within a human or animal species.
  •  26
    Darwin’s principles of divergence and natural selection: Why Fodor was almost right
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (1): 256-268. 2012.
  •  25
    accepted without a compelling materialistic mechnot add that some books might give you terminal anism. Charles Darwin provided this mechanism in..
  •  23
    The Cambridge Companion to the 'Origin of Species' (edited book)
    Cambridge University Press. 2008.
    The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin is universally recognized as one of the most important science books ever written. Published in 1859, it was here that Darwin argued for both the fact of evolution and the mechanism of natural section. The Origin of Species is also a work of great cultural and religious significance, in that Darwin maintained that all organisms, including humans, are part of a natural process of growth from simple forms. This Companion commemorates the 150th anniversary of…Read more
  •  21
    Quite early in the construction of his theory, Darwin realized that he had to explain the distinctive features of the human animal to forestall the return of the Creator. For most British intellectuals, what distinguished man from animals was not reason, an operation in which faint sensory images followed the rules of association, but moral judgment. Thus, shortly after he first formulated the principle of natural selection in the fall of 1838, Darwin began a decades-long struggle to bring human…Read more
  •  20
    In late September 1838, Darwin read Malthus's Essay on Population, which left him with “a theory by which to work.”115 Yet he waited some twenty years to publish his discovery in the Origin of Species. Those interested in the fine grain of Darwin's development have been curious about this delay. One recent explanation has his hand stayed by fear of reaction to the materialist implications of linking man with animals. “Darwin sensed,” according to Howard Gruber, “that some would object to seeing …Read more