Article ID: CBB525461961

Between Social and Biological Heredity: Cope and Baldwin on Evolution, Inheritance, and Mind (2019)


In the years of the post-Darwinian debate, many American naturalists invoked the name of Lamarck to signal their belief in a purposive and anti-Darwinian view of evolution. Yet Weismann’s theory of germ-plasm continuity undermined the shared tenet of the neo-Lamarckian theories as well as the idea of the interchangeability between biological and social heredity. Edward Drinker Cope, the leader of the so-called “American School,” defended his neo-Lamarckian philosophy against every attempt to redefine the relationship between behavior, development, and heredity beyond the epigenetic model of inheritance. This paper explores Cope’s late-career defense of neo-Lamarckism. Particular attention is dedicated to the debate he had with James Mark Baldwin before the publication of Baldwin’s own “A New Factor in Evolution” (1896d). I argue that Cope’s criticism was partly due to the fact that Baldwin’s theory of social heredity threatened Cope’s biologistic stance, as well as his attempt to preserve design in nature. This theoretical attitude had a remarkable impact on Baldwin’s arguments for the theory of organic selection.

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Authors & Contributors
Winther, Rasmus Grønfeldt
Martins, Lilian A.-C. Pereira
Parker, W. Newton
Weismann, August
Rönnfeldt, Harriet
Maier, Bryan N.
Journal of the History of Biology
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Filosofia e História da Biologia
Science and Education
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Edwin Mellen Press
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia
MIT Press
Princeton University
University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)
Science and religion
Weismann, August
Cope, Edward Drinker
Baldwin, James Mark
Darwin, Charles Robert
Vries, Hugo Marie de
Spencer, Herbert
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
20th century, early
21st century
United States
Princeton University

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