Darwin and Darwinism Faculty Seminar

The following text is excerpted from the original grant proposal. Some of the participants changed and topics were altered when the faculty seminar was held.

Seminar topics and the courses in which they might have impact included:

  1. & 2. The Intellectual and Social Roots of Darwin's On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection, 1859 [2 seminar sessions]

    Bert Hansen, Department of History
    John H. Wahlert, Department of Natural Sciences

    Darwin developed his theory of evolution by means of natural selection in the context of 19th-century science and society. The importance of context is attested by the fact that another naturalist, Alfred Russell Wallace, reached the same conclusion simultaneously. The seminar will examine the chief points of Darwin's argument. The text of Darwin's major works are now available on CD-ROM for new kinds of in-depth examination and analysis.

    Suggested reading:
    Appleman, P., ed.1979 Darwin: Selected texts and essays, second ed. W. W. Norton, New York
    Bowler, P.J.1989 Evolution: The history of an idea, revised ed. Univ. California Pr., Berkeley
    Darwin, C.1859(reprinted 1964). On the origin of species by means of natural selection. Harvard Univ. Pr., Cambridge
    DARWIN Multimedia CD ROM. Lightbinders, Inc., San Francisco
    Gillispie, C.C.1959Genesis and geology. Harper and Row, New York
    Lyell, C.1830-3(reprinted 1990-1991). Principles of geology, vols. 1-3. University of Chicago Pr., Chicago
    Mayr, E.1982The growth of biological thought: Diversity, evolution, and inheritance. Harvard Univ. Pr., Cambridge
    Mayr, E.1991One long argument: Charles Darwin and the genesis of modern evolutionary thought. Harvard Univ. Pr., Cambridge
    Malthus, T.R.1798(reprinted 1976). An essay on the principle of population. W. W. Norton, New York
    Moorehead, A.1979 Darwin and the Beagle, rev. ed. Viking Penguin, New York
    Paley, W.1802 (reprinted 1986). Natural theology. Ibis Publ., VA
    Spencer, H.1895-7The principles of sociology, 3rd ed. D. Appleton, New York
    Wallace, A.R.1858On the tendency of varieties to depart indefinitely from the original type. J. Proc. Linn. Soc. (Zoology) 3: 53-62

  1. The Nature of Scientific Theory—Darwin in Introductory Philosophy Courses

    William Earle, Department of Philosophy

    1. What is the nature of scientific theories, the evidence which supports such theories, and how certain can we be that the theories to which scientists currently subscribe are really true?

    2. Darwin challenged the underlying assumption of one very popular proof of God's existence--the "argument from design." What is the nature of rationality in a scientist's commitment to a theory and a religious person's faith? Is "creation science" science?

    Suggested reading:
    Dawkins, R.1986The blind watchmaker: Why the evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design. W. W. Norton, New York
    Eldredge, N.1982The monkey business. Washington Square Pr., New York
    Gould, S.J.1991Bully for Brontosaurus. Chapter 8: "Evolution and Creation," pp. 283-460. W. W. Norton, New York
    Johnson, P.E.1991Darwin on trial. Regnery Gateway, Washington, D.C.

  2. Darwinian Thought in Late 18th and 19th Century French and English Literature

    Scott Bryson, Department of Modern Languages

    1. Darwinian theory was prepared for culturally and, in some ways, even played out by the novel and utopian writings prior to 1858. How were the concerns and techniques of a certain body of literature (Shelley, Balzac, Dickens, for example) instrumental in creating a public forum in which Darwin's theory would be debated.

    2. Darwinian theory inspired directly or indirectly literature and theatre, for example, "naturalism," Emile Zola's novels, and even, by reaction, symbolism.

    Suggested reading:
    Creation of public forum: Novels and poetry of Shelley, Balzac, Dickens. Inspired byDarwinian theory: Novels of Zola

  3. Darwin and Darwinism in 19th and Early 20th Century English Literature

    Gary Hentzi, Department of English

    What effect did Darwin's writing have on Victorian intellectuals? The changes can be traced through consideration of the poetry of Tennyson, the autobiography of Edmund Gosse, and the novels of Elizabeth Gaskell and Thomas Hardy.

    Suggested reading:
    Gaskell, E.1864-6(reprinted 1969). Wives and daughters. Penguin Books, New York
    Gosse, E.1907(reprinted 1963). Father and son. W. W. Norton, Inc., New York
    Hardy, T.1891(reprinted 1979). Tess of the D'Urbervilles. S. Elledge, ed. W. W. Norton, New York
    Mack, M., ed.1985Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces, vol. 2, 5th ed.. [A. Tennyson (1850): "In memoriam."] W. W. Norton, New York

  4. Human Evolution, Cultural Evolution, and the Darwinian Idea

    Glenn Petersen, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

    Topics will include: Recent research in human and cultural evolution; research in human evolution as a model of much current scientific research; the use and abuse of primate studies; older ideas that continue to organize work on Darwinian models of human evolution; prestige of evolutionary studies at the cost of research in more immediately practical fields; modern social movements' use and misuse of evolutionary theory; continued use of teleological ideas of progress in evolutionary studies.

    Suggested reading:
    Barinaga, M.1992 "African Eve" backers beat a retreat. Science
    Landau, M.1991Narratives of human evolution. Yale Univ. Pr., New Haven
    Conkey, M.1991Original narratives: The political economy of gender in archaeology. In Micaela di Leonardo, ed., Gender at the crossroads of knowledge: Feminist anthropology in the postmodern era. Univ. California Pr., Berkeley
    Sperling, S.1991Baboons with briefcases vs. langurs in lipstick: Feminism and functionalism in primate studies. In Micaela di Leonardo, ed., Gender at the crossroads of knowledge: Feminist anthropology in the postmodern era. Univ. California Pr., Berkeley
    Thorne, A.G., & M.H. Wolpoff1992The multiregional evolution of humans. Scientific American
    Wilson, A.C., & R.L. Cann1992The Recent African genesis of humans. Scientific American

  5. Darwinism and Political Science

    Susan Tenenbaum, Department of Political Science

    Darwinian theory has a wide range of applications to political science:

    1. Macro-level: focus on thinkers who have embraced evolutionary theory as scaffolding of a comprehensive biosocial approach to the social sciences.

    2. Mid-level: examination of Darwinian theory as it has shaped interpretations of the relationship between government and society.

    3. Micro-level: impact of Darwin on distinct subject areas in political science, e.g., the debate concerning women and social policy, and law.

    Suggested reading:
    Somit, A., ed.1976Biology and politics: Recent explorations. (Publ. Internat. Social Sci. Council, no. 19). Mouton
    Thorson, T.1970Biopolitics. Holt, Reinhart and Winston, New York
    Spencer, H.1910(reprinted 1982). The man versus the state. Liberty Fund
    Sumner, W.G.1883(reprinted 1972). What social classes owe to each other. Ayer
    Wilson, W.1908(reprinted 1961). Constitutional government in the United States. Columbia Univ. Pr., New York
    Beckstrom, J.1989Evolutionary jurisprudence: Prospects and limitations on the uses of modern Darwinism throughout the legal process. Univ. Illinois Pr.
    Holmes, O.W.1873The gas stokers' strike. Amer. Law Rev. 7: 582
    Rossi, A.1977A biosocial perspective on parenting. Daedalus 106
    Wolgast, E.1980Equality and the rights of women. Cornell Univ. Pr., Ithaca
    General Readings:
    Burrow, J.W.1966Evolution and society: Study in Victorian social theory. Cambridge Univ. Pr., Cambridge
    Degler, C.1991In search of human nature: The decline and revival of Darwinism in American social thought. Oxford Univ. Pr., New York
    Hofstader, R.1955(reprinted 1992). Social Darwinism in American thought. Beacon Press, Boston
    Russett, C.1976. Darwin in America: The intellectual response, 1865-1912. W. H. Freeman, San Francisco

  6. Darwinism in Psychology

    Glenn L. Albright, Department of Psychology

    The work of Charles Darwin directly influenced the evolution of the field of psychology. In the late 1800's functionalists, such as William James and John Dewey, applied Darwinian concepts to understand how humans develop and use specific emotional and cognitive response strategies to effect psychological and physical survival. Recently such psychologists as Erickson and Piaget described stages of human development that, when successfully resolved, facilitate psychological adaptation to one's environment. Darwinian concepts also apply to human psychophysiological response patterns that are inherited predispositions, and thus explanations of mal-adaptive patterns such as hypertension, headaches, etc., have a Darwinian foundation.

    Suggested reading:
    Boring, E.1950A history of experimental psychology. Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York
    Heidbreder, E.1961Seven psychologies. Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York
    James, W.1890The principles of psychology, vol. 1 and 2. Dover Publ., New York

  7. Journalism and Darwinian Theory

    Christopher Hallowell, Department of English--Journalism Program

    Darwin's works are models in the long tradition of natural history writing. Darwinian theory provides an analytical tool that enables journalists to gain perspective on life, particularly human life, and provides a framework for interpreting events in the realm of the natural world and of human business.

    Suggested reading:
    Darwin, C.1859(reprinted 1964). On the origin of species by means of natural selection. Harvard Univ. Pr., Cambridge
    Gould, S.J.1977(reissued 1992). Ever since Darwin: Reflections in natural history. W. W. Norton, New York (plus other Gould collections)
    Vercors1953 [pseud.]. (Trans. by Rita Barisse) You shall know them. Little, Brown and Co., Boston. A novel based on the discovery of a hominid species and an ensuing murder trial which questions what it is to be human
    Wilson, E.O.1978On human nature. Harvard University Pr., Cambridge

  8. Darwinism as a Model for Economic Theory Change and Economics as a Biological Science

    Robert A. Ariel, Department of Economics and Finance

    A powerful new strand in economic theory draws parallels between an individual's economic needs and evolutionary biology, in that, by focusing on populations rather than individuals, it is possible to make meaningful predictions about aggregates such as market demand and supply, and to analyze the sources of change in the underlying parameters. Recent experimental studies on organisms as simple as the bumblebee show that they use a criterion for weighing risk against reward, namely the "mean-variance criterion," which is identical to the optimal criterion for balancing an investment's risk against reward.

    Suggested reading:
    Becker, G.1962Irrational behavior and economic theory. Journal of Political Economy 70 (February): 1-13
    Markowitz, H.M.1959Portfolio Selection: Efficient diversification of investments. Yale Univ. Pr.
    Niehans, J.1981Economics: History, doctrine, science, art. Kyklos 34, no. 2: 165-177.
    Toulmin, S.1961(reprinted 1982). Foresight and understanding. Greenwood Pr.
    Toulmin, S.1977From form to function: Philosophy and history of science in the 1950's and now. Daedalus 106, no. 3 (summer): 143-162

  9. Darwin and Darwinism—Contributions to the Development of Business Studies

    Marilyn Neimark and Tony Tinker, Department of Accountancy

    Several strands of contemporary business literature use Darwinian themes to warrant their claims, likening markets to the natural world and the business firm to an organism. Survival depends on the firm possessing enough mutative (requisite) capacity to match the changes in its environment.

    Suggested reading:
    Ashby, W.R.1964Introduction to cybernetics. Routledge, Chapman and Hall
    Burrell, G., & G. Morgan1979Sociological paradigms and organizational analysis: Elements of the sociology of corporate life. Heinemann, London
    Chandler, A.D., Jr.1977The visible hand: The managerial revolution in American business. Belknap-Harvard Univ. Pr., Cambridge
    Chandler, A.D., Jr.1962Strategy and structure: Chapters in the history of the American industrial enterprise. MIT Pr., Cambridge
    Du Boff, R.B., & E.S. Herman1980Alfred Chandler's new business history: A review. Politics & Society 10(1): 87-110
    Giddens, A.1979Central problems in social theory: Action, structure and contradiction in social analysis. Univ. California Pr., Berkeley
    Habermas, J.1970Toward a rational society: Student protest, science, and Politics. (J. Shapiro trans. from Ger.) Beacon Pr., Boston
    Hirshleifer, J.1978Natural economy versus political economy. Journal of Social Biological Structure 1: 319-337
    Tinker, T.1986Metaphor of reification: Are radical humanists libertarian anarchists? Journal of Management Studies, July, 1986
    Tinker, T.1988Panglossian accounting theories: The science of apologizing in style. Accounting, Organizations and Society 13(2): 165-189
    Tinker, T, & M. Neimark1990Displacing the corporation with deconstructionism and dialectics. In D. Cooper and T. Hopper (eds.), Critical accounts: Reorienting accounting research, Macmillan, London
    Williamson, O.E.1981The modern corporation: Origins, evolution, attributes. Journal of Economic Literature 19(4)

  10. Current Problems of Environmental Change and Loss of Biodiversity

    John H. Wahlert and Miguel Santos, Department of Natural Sciences

    The declining quality of global and local environments is constantly in the news. The vast diversity of life, probably the greatest ever, is threatened, and species of organisms are daily becoming extinct. What will be the cost to humanity, and what measure can be taken to preserve our evolutionary heritage? What is the responsibility of humanity to the natural world.

    Suggested reading:
    Eldredge, N., ed.1992Systematics, ecology, and the biodiversity crisis. Columbia Univ. Pr., New York
    Kennedy, P.1993Preparing for the twenty-first century. Random House, New York
    Wilson, E.O.1992The diversity of life. Harvard Univ. Pr., Cambridge

  11. Social Darwinism in the 19th and 20th Centuries

    Bert Hansen, Department of History

    Although Charles Darwin did not directly address evolution of society in On the Origin of Species, many of his contemporaries deemed it relevant and constructed a variety of social interpretations of Darwin's theory of evolution. Their ideas foreshadow twentieth-century interpretations, which have found both favor and disgust in different forms and settings. Early in the twentieth century, the rise of genetics diminished the supposedly Darwinian interpretation of social forms, structures, and problems, but soon new kinds of Social Darwinism arose. The racialist abuses of the Third Reich caused many intellectuals to shun social Darwinist analyses. But in the last twenty years biologists have proposed a new form of Social Darwinism--sociobiology; its proponents reject the notion that its ideas are socially oppressive or dangerous. Both sociobiology and the debates surrounding it gain clarity by examining them in the light of Darwin's own writings and in the context of earlier social Darwinist ideas.

    Suggested reading:
    Caplan, A.1978The sociobiology debate: Readings on ethical and scientific issues. Harper and Row, New York
    Himmelfarb, G.1959Darwin and the Darwinian revolution. Doubleday, Garden City
    Hofstader, R.1955(reprinted 1992). Social Darwinism in American thought. Beacon Pr., Boston
    Wilson, E.O.1975Sociobiology: The new synthesis. Belknap Pr. of Harvard Univ. Pr., Cambridge
    Wilson, E.O.1978On human nature. Harvard Univ. Pr., Cambridge

  12. Darwin and Darwinism: Scientific Theory and Social Construction: A Summation

    Myrna Chase, Department of History

    This meeting will be devoted to a summation and synthesis of all the topics and to the plan for their integration in the curriculum.

Return to "Darwin and Darwinism" introduction.

Last Modified: 4 January 1999, February 18, 1997 - JHW