Is there any historical record that Darwin's book, The Origin of Species by Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle of Life has instigated actions by men, societies, or governments to treat some races differently, indifferently? Has Darwin's models influenced any philosopher's theories about man or society? If so what was the impact or the benefit?
Is there any record that Darwin's book, "The Origin of Species ... or the Preservation of Favored Races " has had an effect on racial justice?
A scientific work has not to be judged by it's political consequences (real or imagined...) but wether it is supported by the facts or not. I.e. Who cares if people don't like it as long as it's true?– armandMar 18 at 23:09
The Eugenics movement was started by Francis Galton who was inspired by his cousin's book. Apparently Darwin did not approve of that. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics There was no benefit of Eugenics, it was an example of how scientism can lead to unethical action.– Dikran MarsupialMar 18 at 23:09
Of course. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Darwinism was widely popular, & only became discredited through association with Nazism. It led to real policies, like a widespread programme of sterilisation of 'immoral women', & those with disabilities, in pre-war USA - a programme which was directly inspired by Social Darwinst thinking, & directly shaped Nazi policy. But this isn't a philisophy question, it's history.– CriglCraglMar 19 at 23:03
I'm not sure this question is really on topic, but you may be interested in this paper on a study which found that disbelief in evolution is correlated with more racist attitudes.– SandejoMar 20 at 2:22
@Crig/Crag Applied philosophy is a valid aspect of Philosophy SE. The effects of science on philosophy, and vice versa, is of great importance to civilized societies.– user64825Mar 20 at 20:11
Is there any historical record that Darwin's book, The Origin of Species by Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle of Life has instigated actions by men, societies, or governments to treat some races differently, indifferently
According to Wikipedia Darwin was rather moderate when it comes to the racism (compared to his contemporaries). And "race" in the context of that title apparently just meant "variety" which includes but is not limited to varieties within the human species. You also seem to be reading that prescriptive in the sense of "an obligation to preserve favored races", but from a superficial search it seem to be more descriptive in the sense of "why certain varieties are favored/preserved" with the well known answer: "because they are well enough adjusted to their environment to survive long enough to have offspring, who then inherent traits from their parents".
So if Darwin had a racist agenda and committed to activism for racial discrimination, he hid it well enough for many biographies to not be among the most noteworthy aspects of his:
Taking taxidermy lessons in 1826 from the freed slave John Edmonstone, whom Darwin long recalled as "a very pleasant and intelligent man", reinforced his belief that black people shared the same feelings, and could be as intelligent as people of other races. He took the same attitude to native people he met on the Beagle voyage. Though commonplace in Britain at the time, Silliman and Bachman noticed the contrast with slave-owning America. Around twenty years later, racism became a feature of British society, but Darwin remained strongly against slavery, against "ranking the so-called races of man as distinct species", and against ill-treatment of native people. (Wiki)
He was still a child of his time though and apparently has a mixed track record on social issues:
Darwin's views on social and political issues reflected his time and social position. He grew up in a family of Whig reformers who, like his uncle Josiah Wedgwood, supported electoral reform and the emancipation of slaves. Darwin was passionately opposed to slavery, while seeing no problem with the working conditions of English factory workers or servants.
So I'd not rule it out entirely that one is able to find controversial statements of his, but as your question seems to hint at whether he himself instigated those tendencies, then probably no.
Has Darwin's models influenced any philosopher's theories about man or society? If so what was the impact or the benefit?
Undoubtedly. I haven't read them entirely but there are articles on SEP both on Darwinism and Evolution and it's pretty obvious that the theory of evolution has major ramifications at least some of which concern topics related to philosophy.
Obviously it drags a lot of questions as to "why humans are the way they are" from the metaphysical and religious to the scientific and empirical domain. Previously they were subject to intense speculation, now they are answerable within the framework of science. And not only answerable with respect to describing the past but also somewhat predictive with respect to the future.
With regards to racism this discovery is somewhat ambivalent. On the one hand it proofed that the concept of race is wrong. Like racists imagined and often still imagine, "race" to be a description of a species, a category, an unaltering, absolute and fixed mold distinguishing people and of major importance. When in reality it's just a minor variation and what counts is whether people can adapt to their environment well enough to survive (fitness ✔) and whether they can procreate with each other (same species ✔).
And even without any "other", a species could change over time due to adaptation to the environment. It would happen whether you want it or not if it needs to and would not if it didn't have to.
On the other hand the idea of species as manipulable also introduced the idea of directed evolution, playing god/nature and introducing "artificial"/social selection such as Eugenics and Social Darwinism. Though despite bearing his name that's apparently not necessarily Darwin's intention or "fault":
While most scholars recognize some historical links between the popularisation of Darwin's theory and forms of social Darwinism, they also maintain that social Darwinism is not a necessary consequence of the principles of biological evolution. Social Darwinism is generally accepted to be a pseudoscience.
So it's less that Darwin asked for that, but rather some form of a dangerous sci-fi gone wrong and or a weak excuse for not addressing societal problems. It also misses the point that "fittest" is not "strongest" or "best" and that it's not really an individual quality of an individual but rather a category of it's own. So whatever trait and trait bearer survives is by definition fit for survival. It's not a directed competition, but whoever survives is a winner as long as they survive.
And with regards to society it faced a whole different problem of it's own, namely that societies are an evolutionary factor. Humans are technically not very good at anything. We can't fly, we can't swim or dive all that well, we can't run fast, and so on. There are tons of species that can do tones of things better than we can. Yet as a collective we managed to cover each others weak spots well enough to survive in large numbers and produce technology that gets us around most of our weaknesses. Which allows us an adaption to our environment that is much faster than any natural evolution. And which might as well lead to evolution of social skills, ability to bond with other people, empathy, communication skills and so on.
So there are certainly a whole lot of ethical questions that follow from it as well. And given that evolution is now the underlying narrative of biology which also gave as modern medicine, it wasn't all that bad. Not to mention that if it hadn't been Darwin, probably Mendel (the guy who invented modern genetics) or someone else would have discovered it anyway.
It prompts an interesting question though with regards to the ethics of science, as to whether one should publish all knowledge available. And it's difficult because on the one hand you can argue that it can be misused on the other hand, the people who would want to misuse it probably wouldn't have such qualms and if the facts are openly on the table people can at least have an informed discussion and with regards to evolutionary progress, there's also the chance that if you found it there are probably a lot of people in a similar situation than you who would sooner or later find it as well. The idea of a one-in-a-billion genius is most often a wrong narrative.
Your Answer is off the topic of this question. It is NOT concerned with the scientific aspect of Biological Evolution in the laboratory, NOR is it a reference to the Biography of Charles D. (Check his 2nd book for his racist attitude to balance out your bio research) RATHER, the question mentioned the BOOK, and its racist TITLE. The purpose of this post is to raise the awareness of the misuse of science to establish philosophies, and awareness of dire consequences historically and socially. (Darwin ought to have consulted Mendel down the road for much needed correcting, by the wat)– user64825Mar 22 at 23:34
"At some future period...the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropromorphous apes...will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian , and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Aust. and the gorilla." ( Darwin, The Descent of Man, 2nd ed.) So does the word in the TITLE only refer to bio species, or to Races?– user64825Mar 23 at 0:26
@ Haxor789 "The 'religion' of Social Darwinism belongs to the most dangerous elements within the thoughts of the last century. It aids the propagation of ruthless national and racial egoism by establishing it as a moral norm. If Hitler believed in anything at all, then it was in the laws of evolution which justifies and sanctioned his actions and especially his cruelties." (Erich Fromm, psychologist) Here is an example of misuse of science by philosophy!– user64825Mar 23 at 0:32
The answer to this question seems to be an emphatic yes! Coming across the writings of Erich Fromm, the noted psychologist, confirms this, and we quote:
The 'religion' of Social Darwinism belongs to the most dangerous elements within the thoughts of the last century. It aids the propagation of ruthless and racial egoism by establishing it as a moral norm. If Hitler believed in anything at all, then it was in the laws of evolution which justified and sanctioned his actions and especially his cruelties.
And as another User noted, it influenced the practice of Eugenics, which wished to eliminate inferior peoples. As he noted, It is an example of how scientism can lead to unethical action. So this question is not only answered in the affirmative, but raises the awareness to philosophers to not take scientific terminology and build inappropriate Applied Philosophies on them.
Yes, we shouldn't try to apply things beyond their scope, or construct general concepts from specific techniques or practices. Trying to have a general idea of "how the world is" seems like a bad mistake, to me. Mar 25 at 2:13