Eugenics and the Nature-Nurture Debate in the Twentieth Century / Edition 1

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This groundbreaking study shows that sociobiology and evolutionary psychology were undergoing rapid development in the early twentieth century, at a time when many of the early researchers in these sciences were also eugenicists. Aaron Gillette tracks the developments in these fields and explains how, with the rise of behaviorism and the reaction against eugenics in the 1930s, any scientific claims that behavior might be influenced by heredity were subsequently suppressed for ideological reasons.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Gillette covers a development in intellectual history that, I believe, was formative in generating today's conventional wisdom about human nature, yet has scarcely been treated by historians of science. The book is well written and researched, and brings interesting new facts to light." —Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology, Harvard, and author of The Stuff of Thought
"In this book, Gillette conclusively demonstrates that the sociobiological revolution of the late 20th century was not nearly as revolutionary as most think.  Anticipating the work of E. O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins, Robert Trivers, and others by half a century, the work of early 20th-century evolutionary psychologists nevertheless fell into obscurity for several reasons, not the least of which was its taint by association with the eugenics movement. This is a volume that will be of great use not just to students of the histories of psychology and eugenics, but also to those interested in the philosophy and sociology of science." —Kevin Kern, University of Akron

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Aaron Gillette is Assistant Professor of History, University of Houston-Downtown.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Part I The Rebirth of Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology

1 Foundations for a "New" Synthesis 23

2 Recent Studies on Human Sexuality 29

Part II The Birth of Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology

3 The Animal Nature of Humans 43

4 Earlier Studies on Human Sexuality 65

5 Evolution, Ethics, and Culture 101

Part III The Death of Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology

6 The Rise of Environmental Behaviorism 113

7 Evolutionary Psychology under Attack 129

8 The Death of Evolutionary Psychology 145

9 Lost in the Wilderness 167

Conclusion 173

List of Abbreviations 179

Notes 181

Bibliography 215

Index 233

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