The Darwinian Context: Evolution and Inheritance

Diane B. Paul and James Moore

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780195373141
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Darwinian Context: Evolution and Inheritance


This article shows how Darwinian theories and writings play a vital role in shaping scientific and popular attitudes on questions related to human breeding. It lays the theoretical groundwork for eugenics and a large number of statistical studies demonstrate national decline in Britain. Evolution is driven by a global struggle among such units for living space and raw materials. This article argues that the laws of inheritance applied to humans just as much as they did to other animals, and that mental and temperamental as well as physical traits were inherited from both parents. It further discusses the importance of laws of inheritance in improving human populations through breeding that were limited by ignorance of the laws of inheritance. The understanding to these laws increases the perspectives of this work.

Keywords: Darwinian theories; eugenics; evolution; inheritance; human breeding

Article.  7523 words. 

Subjects: History ; Social and Cultural History

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »