Advertisement

Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 437–459 | Cite as

Darwin and political economy: The connection reconsidered

  • Scott Gordon
Article

Conclusion

It seems to me that no substantial support can be provided for the thesis that the Darwinian theory of evolution drew significantly upon ideas in contemporary Political Economy. What Darwin may have derived from Malthus was not an integral part of the theory of population that the classical economists, including Malthus, put forward. He did not know the literature of Political Economy; and if he had been acquainted with it, he would not have been able to derive anything from it that was important for the theory of natural selection. The judgment that “with Darwin's theory there was a real transfer of knowledge from political economy to biology” (Pancaldi 1985:262) cannot be sustained.

Keywords

Natural Selection Political Economy Substantial Support Classical Economist Darwinian Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Barrett, Paul H.; Gautrey, Peter J.; Herbert, Sandra; Kohn, David; and Smith, Sydney, eds. 1987. Charles Darwin's Notebooks, 1836–1844. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bowler, Peter J. 1985. “Scientific Attitudes to Darwinism in Britain and America.” In Kohn (1985), pp. 641–681.Google Scholar
  3. BrooksJohn Langdon. 1984. Just before the Origin: Alfred Russel Wallace's Theory of Evolution. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  4. BrysonGladys. 1968. Man and Society: The Scottish Inquiry of the Eighteenth Century. New York: Kelley.Google Scholar
  5. Coats, A. W., ed. 1971. The Classical Economists and Economic Policy. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  6. Cowles, Thomas. 1936–37. “Malthus, Darwin, and Bagehot: A Study in the Transference of a Concept.” Isis, 26:341–348.Google Scholar
  7. Darwin, Charles. 1874. The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. Revised ed. New York and London: Merrill and Baker.Google Scholar
  8. 1958. The Autobiography of Charles Darwin. Ed. Nora Barlow. London: Collins.Google Scholar
  9. 1968. The Origin of Species. Ed. J. W. Burrow. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  10. Flew, Anthony 1957. “The Structure of Malthus' Population Theory.” Australasian J. Phil., 35:1–20.Google Scholar
  11. Franklin, Benjamin. 1755. Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind and the Peopling of Countries. Boston.Google Scholar
  12. Gale, Barry G. 1972. “Darwin and the Concept of a Struggle for Existence: A Study in the Extrascientific Origins of Scientific Ideas.” Isis, 63:321–344.Google Scholar
  13. George, Wilma. 1964. Biologist Philosopher: A Study of the Life and Writings of Alfred Russel Wallace. New York: Abelard-Schuman.Google Scholar
  14. Ghiselin, M. T. 1969. The Triumph of the Darwinian Method. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  15. Gordon, Scott. 1968. “Laissez-Faire.” In International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 8:546–549. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  16. 1971. “The Ideology of Laissez-Faire.” In Coats (1971), The Classical Economists and Economic Policy. London: Methuen. pp. 181–205.Google Scholar
  17. Gould, Stephen Jay. 1982. Interview. U.S. News and World Report, March 1.Google Scholar
  18. 1987. An Urchin in the Storm. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  19. Gruber, Howard E. 1974. Darwin on Man: A Psychological Study of Scientific Creativity. New York: Dutton.Google Scholar
  20. Gruber, Howard E. 1985. “Going the Limit: Toward the Construction of Darwin's Thoery (1832–1839).” In Kohn (1985), pp. 9–33.Google Scholar
  21. Hartwick, John M. 1988. “Robert Wallace and Malthus and the Ratios.” Hist. Polit. Econ., 20:357–379.Google Scholar
  22. Herbert, Sandra. 1971. “Darwin, Malthus, and Selection.” J. Hist. Biol., 4:209–217.Google Scholar
  23. James, Patricia. 1979. Population Malthus: His Life and Times. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  24. Kohn, David. 1985. The Darwinian Heritage. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  25. La Vergata, Antonello. 1985. “Images of Darwin: A Historiographic Overview.” In Kohn (1985), pp. 901–972.Google Scholar
  26. Lewontin, R. C. 1968. “The Concept of Evolution.” In International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 5:202–209. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  27. Malthus, Thomas Robert. 1926. First Essay on Population. London: Macmillan. This is a facsimile reprint of the first edition of 1798.Google Scholar
  28. . 1951. Principles of Political Economy Considered with a View to Their Practical Application. New York: Augustus M. Kelley. This is a reprint of the second edition, 1836; the first edition was published in 1820.Google Scholar
  29. . 1953 [1830]. A Summary View of the Principle of Population. London: John Murray. Reprinted in D. V. Glass, ed., Introduction to Malthus London: Watts.Google Scholar
  30. Manuel, Frank E., and Manuel, Fritzie P. 1979. Utopian Thought in the Western World. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Marchant, James. 1916. Alfred Russel Wallace: Letters and Reminiscences. New York: Cassell.Google Scholar
  32. Mayr, Ernst. 1982. The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance. Cambridge, Mass.:Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  33. McKinney, H. Lewis. 1966. “Alfred Russel Wallace and the Discovery of Natural Selection.” J. Hist. Med., 21:333–357.Google Scholar
  34. Merton, Robert K. 1973. The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  35. Mill, John Stuart. 1965. Principles of Political Economy, with Some of their Applications to Social Philosophy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  36. Montagu, Ashley. 1952. Darwin: Competition and Cooperation. New York: Schuman.Google Scholar
  37. Moore, James R. 1979. The Post-Darwinian Controversies: A Study of the Protestant Struggle to Come to Terms with Darwin in Great Britain and America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Ospovat, Dov. 1979. “Darwin after Malthus.” J. Hist. Biol., 12:211–230.Google Scholar
  39. Pancaldi, Giuliano. 1985. “Darwin's Intellectual Development (Commentary).” In Kohn (1985), pp. 259–263.Google Scholar
  40. Pearl, Raymond, and Reed, Lowell J. 1920. “On the Rate of Growth of the Population of the United States since 1790 and Its Mathematical Representation.” Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 6:275–288.Google Scholar
  41. Ricardo, David. 1951. On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. First Edition 1817.Google Scholar
  42. Robbins, L. C. 1952. The Theory of Economic Policy in English Classical Political Economy. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  43. Ruse, Michael. 1975. “Darwin's Debt to Philosophy: An Examination of the Influence of the Philosophical Ideas of John F. W. Herschel and William Whewell on the Development of Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution.” Stud. Hist. Phil. Sci., 6:159–181.Google Scholar
  44. 1986. Taking Darwin Seriously: A Naturalistic Approach to Philosophy. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  45. Sandow, Alexander. 1938. “Social Factors in the Origin of Darwinism.” Quart. Rev. Biol., 19:315–326.Google Scholar
  46. Schweber, Silvan S. 1977. “The Origin of the Origin Revisited.” J. Hist. Biol., 10:229–316.Google Scholar
  47. 1980. “Darwin and the Political Economists: Divergence of Character.” J. Hist. Biol., 13:195–289.Google Scholar
  48. Schweber, Silvan S. 1985. “The Wider British Context in Darwin's Theorizing.” In Kohn (1985), pp. 35–69.Google Scholar
  49. Ureña, Enrique M. 1977. “Marx and Darwin.” Hist. Polit. Econ., 9:548–559.Google Scholar
  50. 1981. “A Note on ‘Marx and Darwin’.” Hist. Polit. Econ., 13:772–773.Google Scholar
  51. Vorzimmer, Peter. 1969. “Darwin, Malthus, and the Theory of Natural Selection.” J. Hist. Ideas, 30:527–542.Google Scholar
  52. . 1977. “The Darwin Reading Notebooks (1838–1860).” J. Hist. Biol., 10:107–153.Google Scholar
  53. Young, Robert M. 1969. “Malthus and the Evolutionists: The Common Context of Biological and Social Theory.” Past and Present, 43:109–145.Google Scholar
  54. 1971. “Evolutionary Biology and Ideology: Then and Now.” Sci. Stud., 1:177–206.Google Scholar
  55. Zirkle, Conway. 1957. “Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Malthus, and the United States Census.” Isis, 48:58–62.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott Gordon
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of the History and Philosophy of ScienceIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsQueen's UniversityKingstonCanada

Personalised recommendations