Darwin and the Descent of Woman

  • Eveeleen Richards
Part of the Australasian Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 2)


A growing number of social historians and sociologists of science have come to think of scientific knowledge as a ‘contingent cultural product, which cannot be separated from the social context in which it is produced’, and they have begun to explore the possibility of there being direct ‘external’ or what are generally regarded as ‘non-scientific’ influences on the content of what scientists consider to be genuine knowledge.2 In their view, scientific assertions are ‘socially created and not directly given by the physical world as previously supposed’.3 This is not to assert that science is merely a matter of convention — that the external world does not constrain scientific conclusions — but rather that scientific knowledge ‘offers an account of the physical world which is mediated through available cultural resources; and these resources are in no way definitive’.4


Natural Selection Sexual Selection Natural Theology Sexual Division Male Combat 
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  1. M. T. Ghiselin, The Triumph of the Darwinian Method (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1972), pp. 214–231.Google Scholar
  2. M. T. Ghiselin, The Economy of Nature and the Evolution of Sex (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1974 ).Google Scholar
  3. F. Darwin (ed.), op. cit. (Note 19), Vol. III, pp. 89–91; also More Letters of Charles Darwin ed. F. Darwin (New York, 1903), Vol. II, pp. 31–37.Google Scholar
  4. C. Darwin, The Origin of Species, Reprint of First Edition, ed. J. W. Burrow (Harmondsworth, 1968 ), p. 136.Google Scholar
  5. See S. J. Gould, Ontogeny and Phytogeny ( Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1977 ), pp. 115–166.Google Scholar
  6. C. Vogt Lectures on Man: His Place In Creation, and in the History of the Earth ed. J. Hunt (London, 1864), p. 183. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eveeleen Richards
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WollongongAustralia

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