Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 53–87 | Cite as

Colleagues in conflict: An ‘in vivo’ analysis of the sociobiology controversy

  • Ullica Segerstrale


Edward O. Wilson's forays into human sociobiology have been the target of persistent, vehement attack by his Harvard colleague in evolutionary biology, Richard C. Lewontin. Through examination of existing “documents in the case”, together with in-depth personal interviews of Wilson, Lewontin, and other biologists, the reasons for Wilson's stance and Lewontin's criticisms are uncovered. It is argued that the dispute is not primarily personally or politically motivated, but involves a conflict between long-term scientific-cum-moral agendas, with the “reductionist program” as a key issue. It is concluded that it is in the interest of both disputants to keep the controversy alive.


E. O. Wilson R. C. Lewontin sociobiology 


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ullica Segerstrale
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologySmith CollegeNorthamptonU.S.A.

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