Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins

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Denis R. Alexander, Ronald L. Numbers
University of Chicago Press, May 15, 2010 - Science - 416 pages

Over the course of human history, the sciences, and biology in particular, have often been manipulated to cause immense human suffering. For example, biology has been used to justify eugenic programs, forced sterilization, human experimentation, and death camps—all in an attempt to support notions of racial superiority. By investigating the past, the contributors to Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins hope to better prepare us to discern ideological abuse of science when it occurs in the future.

Denis R. Alexander and Ronald L. Numbers bring together fourteen experts to examine the varied ways science has been used and abused for nonscientific purposes from the fifteenth century to the present day. Featuring an essay on eugenics from Edward J. Larson and an examination of the progress of evolution by Michael J. Ruse, Biology and Ideology examines uses both benign and sinister, ultimately reminding us that ideological extrapolation continues today. An accessible survey, this collection will enlighten historians of science, their students, practicing scientists, and anyone interested in the relationship between science and culture.

 

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Contents

Introduction Denis R Alexander and Ronald L Numbers
1
1 The cultural authority of natural history in early modern Europe Peter Harrison
11
2 Biology atheism and politics in eighteenthcentury France Shirley A Roe
36
3 Eighteenthcentury uses of vitalism in constructing the human sciences Peter Hanns Reill
61
Paley Darwin and the Bridgewater Treatises Jonathan R Topham
88
5 Race empire and biology before Darwinism Sujit Sivasundaram
114
6 Darwins choice Nicolaas Rupke
139
7 Biology and the emergence of the AngloAmerican eugenics movement Edward J Larson
165
10 Evolution and the idea of social Progress Michael Ruse
247
11 Beauty and the beast? Conceptualizing sex in evolutionary narratives Erika Lorraine Milam
276
12 Creationism intelligent design and modern biology Ronald L Numbers
302
13 The ideological uses of evolutionary biology in recent atheist apologetics Alister E McGrath
329
Acknowledgments
353
Notes
355
Contributors
429
Index
435

8 Genetics eugenics and the Holocaust Paul Weindling
192
9 Darwinism Marxism and genetics in the Soviet Union Nikolai Krementsov
215

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About the author (2010)

Denis R. Alexander is director of The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge, and has worked in the biological research community for the past forty years. Ronald R. Numbers is Hilldale Professor of History of Science and Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the coeditor of , also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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