© 2007

Eugenics and the Nature-Nurture Debate in the Twentieth Century

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Introduction

    1. Aaron Gillette
      Pages 1-18
  3. The Rebirth of Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 19-19
    2. Aaron Gillette
      Pages 21-26
    3. Aaron Gillette
      Pages 27-37
  4. The Birth of Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 39-39
    2. Aaron Gillette
      Pages 41-60
    3. Aaron Gillette
      Pages 61-94
    4. Aaron Gillette
      Pages 95-103
  5. The Death of Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 105-105
    2. Aaron Gillette
      Pages 107-120
    3. Aaron Gillette
      Pages 121-134
    4. Aaron Gillette
      Pages 135-155
    5. Aaron Gillette
      Pages 157-162
    6. Aaron Gillette
      Pages 163-167
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 169-224

About this book


Gillette shows that the sciences of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology were undergoing rapid development in the early Twentieth century. However, many of the early researchers in these sciences were also eugenicists. With the rise of behaviourism and the reaction against eugenics in the 1930s, any scientific claims that behaviour might be influenced by heredity were suppressed for ideological reasons.


20. Jahrhundert 20th century behavior death ethics evolution evolutionary psychology psychology synthesis

About the authors

AARON GILLETTE is Assistant Professor of History, University of Houston-Downtown, USA.

Bibliographic information


"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