Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins

Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins

Denis R. Alexander and Ronald L. Numbers

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226608402

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Over the course of human history, the sciences in general and biology in particular have often been manipulated to cause immense human suffering. For example, biology has been used to justify eugenic programs, forced sterilization, human experimentation, and death camps—all in an attempt to support notions of racial superiority. By investigating the past, including studies of René Descartes and Richard Dawkins, this book hopes to better prepare us to discern ideological abuse of science when it occurs in the future. It brings together fourteen experts to examine the varied ways science has been used and abused for non-scientific purposes from the fifteenth century to the present day. Featuring a chapter on eugenics and an examination of the progress of evolution, the book uses both benign and sinister, ultimately reminding us that ideological extrapolation continues today.