Journal of the History of Biology

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

Darwin and political economy: The connection reconsidered

  • Scott Gordon


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.


Natural Selection Political Economy Substantial Support Classical Economist Darwinian Theory 
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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

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