Advertisement

Science & Education

, Volume 19, Issue 4–5, pp 323–366 | Cite as

Darwinian Controversies: An Historiographical Recounting

  • David J. Depew
Article

Abstract

This essay reviews key controversies in the history of the Darwinian research tradition: the Wilberforce-Huxley debate in 1860, early twentieth-century debates about the heritability of acquired characteristics and the consistency of Mendelian genetics with natural selection; the 1925 Scopes trial about teaching evolution; tensions about race, culture, and eugenics at the 1959 centenary celebration Darwin’s Origin of Species; adaptationism and its critics in the Sociobiology debate of 1970s and, more recently, Evolutionary Psychology; and current disputes about Intelligent Design. These controversies, I argue, are etched into public memory because they occur at the emotionally charged boundaries between public-political, technical-scientific, and personal-religious spheres of discourse. Over most of them falls the shadow of eugenics. The main lesson is that the history of Darwinism cannot be told except by showing the mutual influence of the different norms of discourse that obtain in the personal, technical, and public spheres. Nor can evolutionary biology successfully be taught to citizens and citizens-to-be until the fractious intersections between spheres of discourse have been made explicit. In the course of showing why, I take rival evolutionary approaches to be dynamical historical research traditions rather than static theories. Accordingly, I distinguish Darwin’s version of Darwinism from its later transformations. I pay special attention to the role Darwin assigned to development in evolution, which was marginalized by twentieth-century population genetical Darwinism, but has recently resurfaced in new forms. I also show how the disputed phrases “survival of the fittest” and “social Darwinism” have shaped personal anxieties about “Darwinism,” have provoked public opposition to teaching evolution in public schools, and have cast a shadow over efforts to effectively communicate to the public largely successful technical efforts to make evolutionary inquiry into a science.

Keywords

Natural Selection Public Sphere Intelligent Design Modern Synthesis Natural Theology 
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.

Notes

Acknowledgments

My thanks to the following for valuable help in preparing this essay: Kostas Kampourakis, Jim Moore, David Rudge, Stan Salthe, and Bruce Weber.

References

  1. Amundson R (2005) The changing role of the embryo in evolutionary thought. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  2. Bannister R (1988) Social Darwinism: science and myth in anglo-american social thought, 2nd edn. University of Pennsylvania Press, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  3. Barkow JH, Cosmides L, Tooby J (eds) (1991) The adapted mind: evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Barlow N (ed) (1958) The autobiography of Charles Darwin. Collins, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Barrett P, Gautrey P, Herbert S, Kohn D, Smiths S (eds) (1987) Charles Darwin’s notebooks, 1836–1844. Cornell University Press, IthacaGoogle Scholar
  6. Beatty J (1994) Dobzhansky and the biology of democracy: the moral and political significance of genetic variation. In: Adams M (ed) The evolution of Theodosius Dobzhansky. Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp 195–218Google Scholar
  7. Beer G (2000) Darwin’s plots, 2nd edn. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  8. Behe M (1996) Darwin’s black box. Free, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Black E (2003) War against the weak: eugenics and America’s campaign to create a master race. Four Walls Eight Windows, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Brooke J, Osler M, Van der Meer J (eds) (2001) Science in theistic contexts. Osiris 16. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  11. Brooke JH (1991) Science and religion. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  12. Brooke JH (2001) The Wilberforce-Huxley debate: why did it happen? Sci Christ Belief 13:127–141Google Scholar
  13. Browne J (1996) Charles Darwin: voyaging. Knopf, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Browne J (2002) Charles Darwin: the power of place. Knopf, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Bryan WJ (1905) Prince of peace. Funk & Wagnalls, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Burkhardt F et al (eds) (1985) The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  17. Chambers R (1994) Vestiges of natural history of creation and other evolutionary writings. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  18. Crook P (1984) Benjamin Kidd: portrait of a social Darwinist. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  19. Crook P (1994) Darwinism, war and history. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  20. Crook P (2007) Darwin’s coat tails: essays on social Darwinism. Peter Lang, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Darwin C (1859) On the origin of species. Facsimile first edn. Mayr E (ed). Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  22. Darwin C (1871) The descent of man. John Murray, LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. Dawkins R (1989) The selfish gene, 2nd edn. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  24. Dawkins R (1996) The blind watchmaker. W.W. Norton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  25. Dawkins R (2006) The god delusion. Houghton Mifflin, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  26. Dembski W (1999) Intelligent design: the bridge between science & theology. InterVarsity, Downers GroveGoogle Scholar
  27. Dennert E (1904) At the deathbed of Darwinism. English translation by E. O’Harra and J. Peschges. Burlington, Iowa, German Literary Board. Original German text 1902, Halle, MuhlmannGoogle Scholar
  28. Dennett D (1995) Darwin’s dangerous idea. Simon and Schuster, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Dennett D (1997) Darwinian fundamentalism: an exchange. New York Rev Books 44:13Google Scholar
  30. Depew D (2009) The rhetoric of the Origin of Species. In: Ruse M, Richards R (eds) The Cambridge companion to the Origin of Species. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 237–255Google Scholar
  31. Depew D, Weber B (1995) Darwinism evolving: systems dynamics and the genealogy of natural selection. Bradford/MIT, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  32. Desmond A (1989) The politics of evolution. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  33. Desmond A (1994/1996) Huxley. Addison-Wesley, ReadingGoogle Scholar
  34. Desmond A (1997) Huxley: from devil’s disciple to evolution’s high priest. Addison-Wesley, ReadingGoogle Scholar
  35. Desmond A, Moore J (1991) Darwin. W.W. Norton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  36. Desmond A, Moore J (2009) Darwin’s sacred cause. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, BostonGoogle Scholar
  37. Dewey J (1898) Evolution in ethics. Monist 8:321–341Google Scholar
  38. Dewey J (1910) The influence of Darwinism on philosophy. In: Dewey J (ed) The influence of Darwinism on philosophy and other essays. Holt, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  39. Di Gregorio M, Gill N (eds) (1990) Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Garland, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  40. Dobzhansky T (1937) Genetics and the origin of species. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  41. Dobzhansky T (1962) Mankind evolving. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  42. Dobzhansky T (1973) Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. Am Biol Teach 35:125–129Google Scholar
  43. Dobzhansky T, Sperry R, Debeake M, Boulding K (1976) Man and the biological revolution. York University, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  44. Dunn L, Dobzhansky T (1946) Heredity, race, and society. Penguin, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  45. Dunn L, Dobzhansky T (1952) Heredity, race, and society, 2nd edn. New American Library, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  46. Eisely L (1958) Darwin’s century. Doubleday, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  47. Eldredge N, Grene M (1992) Interactions. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  48. England R (2001) Natural selection, teleology, and the logos: from Darwin to the oxford neo-Darwinians. Osiris 16:270–287Google Scholar
  49. Fisher RA (1930) The genetical theory of natural selection. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  50. Fussell P (1975) The great war and modern memory. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  51. Gayon J (1998) Darwinism’s struggle for survival. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  52. Ghiselin M (1969) The triumph of the Darwinian method. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  53. Gilbert S (1994) Dobzhansky, Waddington, and Schmalhausen: embryology and the modern synthesis. In: Adams M (ed) The evolution of Theodosius Dobzhansky. Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp 143–154Google Scholar
  54. Gilbert S, Epel D (2008) Ecological developmental biology: integrating epigenetics, medicine, and evolution. Sinauer Associates, SunderlandGoogle Scholar
  55. Goodnight T (1982) The personal, technical and public sphere of argumentation. Argumentation Advocacy 18:214–227Google Scholar
  56. Goodwin B (1994) How the leopard changed its spots. Charles Scribners, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  57. Gould SJ (1982) Darwinism and the expansion of evolutionary theory. Science 216:380–387Google Scholar
  58. Gould SJ (1983) The hardening of the modern synthesis. In: Grene M (ed) Dimensions of Darwinism. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 71–93Google Scholar
  59. Gould SJ (1997a) Non-overlapping magisteria. Nat Hist 106:16–22Google Scholar
  60. Gould SJ (1997b) Darwinian fundamentalism. New York Rev Books 44(10):34–37Google Scholar
  61. Gould SJ (1997c) The pleasures of pluralism. New York Rev Books 44(11):47–52Google Scholar
  62. Gould SJ (1999) Rocks of ages: science and religion in the gullness of life. Ballantine, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  63. Gould SJ, Lewontin RC (1979) The spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian paradigm: a critique of the adaptationist program. Proc R Soc Lond Ser B 205(1161):581–598Google Scholar
  64. Grant M (1922) The passing of the great race. Scribners, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  65. Gray A (1860) Darwin and his reviewers. Atl Mon 36:406–425Google Scholar
  66. Gray A (1963) Darwiniana. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  67. Halliday R (1971) Social Darwinism: a definition. Vic Stud 14:389–405Google Scholar
  68. Hodge MJS (1985) Darwin as a lifelong generation theorist. In: Kohn D (ed) The Darwinian heritage. Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp 207–243Google Scholar
  69. Hofstadter R (1944) Social darwinism in American thought. University of Pennsylvania Press, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  70. Hollinger R, Depew D (eds) (1995) Pragmatism: from progressivism to post-modernism. Praeger, WestportGoogle Scholar
  71. Holmes OW (1927) Buck v. Bell. Supreme Court of the United States. (No. 292) Argued April 22, 1927, Decided May 2, 1927Google Scholar
  72. Hunter G (1914) A civic biology. American, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  73. Huxley J (1942) Evolution: the modern synthesis. Allen and Unwin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  74. Huxley J, Haddon AC (1935) We Europeans: a survey of ‘racial’ problems. Harper & brothers, LondonGoogle Scholar
  75. Jablonka E, Lamb M (1995) Epigenetic inheritance and evolution: the Lamarckian dimension. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  76. Jenson J (1988) Return to the Wilberforce-Huxley debate. Br J Hist Sci 21:168Google Scholar
  77. Kalant H, Kallow W, Pinker S (1997) Evolutionary psychology: an exchange. New York Rev Books 44:15Google Scholar
  78. Keller EF (2000) The century of the gene. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  79. Kellogg V (1907) Darwinism today. Holt, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  80. Kellogg V (1917) Headquarters nights: a record of conversations and experiences at the headquarters of the german army in France and Belgium. Atlantic Monthly, BostonGoogle Scholar
  81. Kevles D (1985) In the name of eugenics. Alfred Knopf, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  82. Kidd B (1894) Social evolution. Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  83. Kohn D (1996) The aesthetic construction of Darwin’s theory. In: Tauber A (ed) Aesthetics and science. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 13–48Google Scholar
  84. Kohn D (2009) Darwin's keystone: the principle of divergence. In: Ruse M, Richards R (eds) The Cambridge companion to the Origin of Species. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 87–108Google Scholar
  85. Kottler M (1985) Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace: two decades of debate over natural selection. In: Kohn D (ed) The Darwinian heritage. Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp 367–432Google Scholar
  86. Langer W (1935) The diplomacy of imperialism. Knopf, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  87. Larson E (1997) Summer for the gods. Basic, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  88. Lennox J (1993) Darwin was a teleologist. Biol Philos 8:409–421Google Scholar
  89. Lewontin R (2009) Why Darwin. New York Rev Books 56:19–22Google Scholar
  90. Lucas JR (1979) Wilberforce and Huxley: a legendary encounter. Hist J 22:313–330Google Scholar
  91. Manier E (1978) The young Darwin and his cultural circle. Reidel, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  92. Margulis L, Sagan D (2002) Acquiring genomes: the theory of the origins of the species. Basic, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  93. Matthen M, Ariew A (2002) Two ways of thinking about fitness and natural selection. J Philos 99:55–83Google Scholar
  94. Mayr E (1988) Toward a new philosophy of biology. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  95. Mayr E (1991) One long argument: Charles Darwin and the genesis of modern evolutionary thought. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  96. Mayr E, Provine W (eds) (1980) The evolutionary synthesis. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  97. Mooney C (2005) The republican war on science. Basic, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  98. Moore J (1979) The post-Darwinian controversies: a study of the struggle to come to terms with darwin in Great Britain and America. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  99. Moore J (2007) R. A. Fisher: a faith fit for eugenics. Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci 38:110–135Google Scholar
  100. Morris SC (2008) The deep structure of biology: is convergence sufficiently ubiquitous to give a directional signal? Templeton Foundation, West ConshohockenGoogle Scholar
  101. Morris HM, Whitcomb JC (1961) The genesis flood: the biblical record and its scientific implications. Presbyterian & Reformed, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  102. Moss L (2003) What genes can’t do. MIT, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  103. Numbers R (1998) Darwinism comes to America. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  104. Numbers R (2006) The creationists, Revised edn. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  105. Nyhart L (2009) Embryology and morphology. In: Ruse M, Richards R (eds) The Cambridge companion to the Origin of Species. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 194–215Google Scholar
  106. Olby R (2009) Variation and inheritance. In: Ruse M, Richards R (eds) The Cambridge companion to the Origin of Species. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 30–46Google Scholar
  107. Ospovat D (1981) The development of Darwin’s theory: natural history, natural theology, natural selection. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  108. Paley W (1802) Natural theology. Faulder, LondonGoogle Scholar
  109. Paradis J, Williams GC (1989) Evolution and Ethics: T.H. Huxley’s evolution and ethics with new essays on its Victorian and sociobiological context. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  110. Paul D (1995) Controlling human heredity: 1865 to the present. Humanities, Atlantic HighlandsGoogle Scholar
  111. Provine W (1971) The origins of theoretical population genetics. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  112. Provine W (1986) Sewell Wright and evolutionary biology. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  113. Richards R (1987) Darwin and the emergence of evolutionary theories of mind and behavior. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  114. Richards R (1992) The meaning of evolution. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  115. Richards R (1997) The theological foundations of Darwin’s theory of evolution. In: Theerman P, Parshall K (eds) Exploring nature. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 61–79Google Scholar
  116. Richards R (2002) The romantic conception of life. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  117. Richards R (2008a) Darwin’s theory of natural selection and its moral purpose. In: Ruse M, Richard R (eds) The Cambridge companion to the Origin of Species. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 237–255Google Scholar
  118. Richards R (2008b) The tragic sense of life: Ernst Haeckel and the struggle over evolutionary thought. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  119. Rosenberg A (2007) Reductionism (and anti-reductionism) in biology. In: Hull DL, Ruse M (eds) The Cambridge companion to the philosophy of biology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 120–138Google Scholar
  120. Ruse M (1984) The morality of the gene. Monist 67:167–199Google Scholar
  121. Ruse M (1991) Monad to man: the concept of progress in evolutionary biology. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  122. Ruse M (1999) Mystery of mysteries: is evolution a social construction?. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  123. Ruse M (2006) Darwinism and its discontents. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  124. Ruse M (2008) Charles Darwin. Blackwell, LondonGoogle Scholar
  125. Ruse M, Wilson EO (1985) The evolution of ethics. New Sci 17:50–52Google Scholar
  126. Ryland M, Behe M (2004) Intelligent design: challenges to evolution theory. Our Sunday Visitor, September 29Google Scholar
  127. Schweber S (1985) The wider British context in Darwin’s theorizing. In: Kohn D (ed) The Darwinian heritage. Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp 35–69Google Scholar
  128. Secord J (2000) Victorian sensation. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  129. Sedgwick A (1845) Review of vestiges of the natural history of creation. Edinb Rev 82:1–85Google Scholar
  130. Sedley D (2007) Creationism and its critics in antiquity. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  131. Sloan P (2001) The sense of sublimity: Darwin on nature and divinity. Osiris 16:251–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  132. Smocovitis VB (1996) Unifying biology. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  133. Smocovitis VB (2000) The 1959 Darwin centennial celebration. In: Abir-Am P, Elliott C (eds) Commemorative Practices in Science. Special issue of Osiris, second series, vol 14, pp 274–323Google Scholar
  134. Sober E (2000) Philosophy of biology, 2nd edn. Westview, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  135. Sober E, Wilson DS (1998) Unto others: the evolution of altruism. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  136. Spencer H (1852) The development hypothesis. In: Spencer, H (ed) Essays: scientific, political and speculative. Williams and Norgate, London, pp 377–383Google Scholar
  137. Spencer H (1865) Principles of biology. Williams and Norgate, LondonGoogle Scholar
  138. Spencer H (1893) A rejoinder to professor Weismann. Contemp Rev 64:893–912Google Scholar
  139. Stauffer RC (ed) (1975) Charles Darwin’s ‘natural selection’. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  140. Todes D (2000) Darwin without Malthus. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  141. Waddington CH (1941) The evolution of developmental systems. Nature 147:108–110Google Scholar
  142. Waddington CH (1957) The strategy of the genes. Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  143. Walsh D (2006a) Organisms as natural purposes. Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci 37:771–791Google Scholar
  144. Walsh D (2006b) Evolutionary essentialism. Br J Philos Sci 57:425–448Google Scholar
  145. Ward LF (1897) The psychic factors of civilization. Ginn, BostonGoogle Scholar
  146. Waters K (2009) The arguments in the origin of species. In: Hodge J, Radick G (eds) The Cambridge companion to Darwin. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 120–146Google Scholar
  147. Weber B, Depew D (eds) (2003) Evolution and learning: the Baldwin effect reconsidered. MIT, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  148. Weinberg S (1992) Dreams of a final theory. Pantheon, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  149. Weindling P (1989) Health, race and german politics between national unification and nazism. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  150. Weismann A (1893a) The germ plasm: a theory of heredity. Scott, LondonGoogle Scholar
  151. Weismann A (1893b) The all-sufficiency of natural selection: a reply to Herbert Spencer. Contemp Rev 64(309–389):596–610Google Scholar
  152. West-Eberhard MJ (2003) Developmental plasticity and evolution. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  153. Wilberforce S (1860) Review of origin of species. Q Rev 108:225–226Google Scholar
  154. Wilkins A (2008) Waddington’s unfinished critique of neo-Darwinian genetics: then and now. Biol Theory 3:224–232Google Scholar
  155. Wilson EO (1975) Sociobiology: the new synthesis. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  156. Wilson EO (1978) On human nature. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  157. Woodbridge F (1940) Mind and nature. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  158. Young R (1985) Darwinism is social. In: Kohn D (ed) The Darwinian heritage. Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp 609–638Google Scholar
  159. Zammito J (2002) Kant, Herder and the birth of anthropology. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of IowaIowa CityUSA

Personalised recommendations