Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Between holism and reductionism : organismic inheritance and neo-Kantian biological tradition in Britain and the USA, 1890-1940
Author: Esposito, Maurizio
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2011
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Anglophone biology at the start of the twentieth century tends to be remembered as ambitiously reductionist. Yet it was also a time that saw the flourishing of a now largely forgotten Kantian tradition. Drawing on archival as well as printed sources, this dissertation charts the dissemination and appropriation of Kant's bio-philosophy in the UK and the USA in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a tradition flexible enough to change as it encountered new institutional and disciplinary contexts, yet stable enough to unite an international community of biologists who were often in contact with each other and endorsed each others' work. The lives and researches of some representative exponents of this community are examined in detail: among the British biologists, J. S. Haldane, D' Arcy W. Thompson, E. S. Russell and J. H. Woodger; among American biologists, F. R. Lillie, E. E. Just, C. M. Child and W. E. Ritter. These men not only accepted a number of core tenets characterizing organismal biology but appealed to them in criticizing Weismann's germ-plasm hypothesis, Mendelian genetics, and other forms of what they saw as naive reductionism and simplistic mechanism. Moreover - and in contrast with the socially conservative fate of Kantian biology in its German homeland - their scientific views often became intertwined with support for progressive or leftist political doctrines, eugenics included.
Supervisor: Radick, G. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available