Article ID: CBB001023985

Utopianism in the British Evolutionary Synthesis (2011)


Esposito, Maurizio (Author)

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Volume: 42
Pages: 40--49

Publication Date: 2011
Edition Details: Part of a special issue, “Defining Darwinism: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Debate”
Language: English

In this paper I propose a new interpretation of the British evolutionary synthesis. The synthetic work of J. B. S. Haldane, R. A. Fisher and J. S. Huxley was characterized by both an integration of Mendelism and Darwinism and the unification of different biological subdisciplines within a coherent framework. But it must also be seen as a bold and synthetic Darwinian program in which the biosciences served as a utopian blueprint for the progress of civilization. Describing the futuristic visions of these three scientists in their synthetic heydays, I show that, despite a number of important divergences, their biopolitical ideals could be biased toward a controlled and regimented utopian society. Their common ideals entailed a social order where liberal and democratic principles were partially or totally suspended in favor of bioscientific control and planning for the future. Finally, I will argue that the original redefinition of Darwinism that modern synthesizers proposed is a significant historical example of how Darwinism has been used and adapted in different contexts. The lesson I draw from this account is a venerable one: that, whenever we wish to define Darwinism, we need to recognize not only its scientific content and achievements but expose the other traditions and ideologies it may have supported.

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Article Hull, David L. (2011) Defining Darwinism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (p. 2). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Sarkar, Sahotra
Hale, Piers J.
Bowler, Peter J.
Aylward, Alex
Turda, Marius
Sommer, Marianne
Journal of the History of Biology
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
VIET: Voprosy Istorii Estestvoznaniia i Tekhniki
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Science, Technology and Human Values
Science and Education
Oxford University Press
University of Wales Press
Kluwer Academic
Edinburgh University Press
Cambridge University Press
American Philosophical Society
Science and politics
Haldane, John Burdon Sanderson
Fisher, Ronald Aylmer
Huxley, Julian Sorell
Mayr, Ernst
Wright, Sewall
Wells, Herbert George
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
20th century, early
21st century
Great Britain
United States

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