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CHARLES DARWIN'S LIBERALISM IN 'NATURAL SELECTION AS AFFECTING CIVILISED NATIONS'

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This article reassesses 'Natural Selection as affecting Civilised Nations': a thirteen-page section in the first volume of The Descent of Man (1871) often assumed to be problematic for those who wish to emphasize Darwin's liberal credentials. For hismost virulent critics the section connects Darwin to eugenics and the Nazi Holocaust. Even his admirers tend to view it as symptomatic of Darwin succumbing to a more conservative politics. This article demonstrates, through a delineation of the intellectual context and a close reading of key passages, that in fact 'Natural Selection as affecting Civilised Nations' confirmed, rather than abandoned, Darwin's liberalism.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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