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From Darwin to Hitler : Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics and Racism in Germany - Richard Weikart

From Darwin to Hitler

Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics and Racism in Germany

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Published: 30th June 2004
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In this work, Richard Weikart explains the revolutionary impact Darwinism had on ethics and morality. He demonstrates that many leading Darwinian biologists and social thinkers in Germany believed that Darwinism overturned traditional Judeo-Christian and Enlightenment ethics, especially the view that human life is sacred. Many of these thinkers supported moral relativism, yet simultaneously exalted evolutionary 'fitness' (especially intelligence and health) to the highest arbiter of morality. Darwinism played a key role in the rise not only of eugenics, but also euthanasia, infanticide, abortion and racial extermination. This was especially important in Germany, since Hitler built his view of ethics on Darwinian principles, not on nihilism.

'One of the finest examples of intellectual history I have seen in a long while. It is insightful, thoughtful, informative, and highly readable.' - Ian Dowbiggin, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada, and Author of A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America

Review of the Hardback Edition



'This is an impressive piece of intellectual and cultural history - a well-researched, clearly presented argument with good, balanced, fair judgements. Weikart has a thorough knowledge of the relevant historiography in both German and English.' - Alfred Kelly, Edgar B. Graves Professor of History, Hamilton College, USA



'Richard Weikart, the author of this captivating and well-documented book, makes it clear that he intends to provide the reader with a scrupulously historical study of the Darwinian influence on eugenics, euthanasia, racial theory, and militarism in Germany.' - Paola S. Timiras, The European Legacy

Illustrationsp. vii
Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. 1
Laying New Foundations for Ethicsp. 19
The Origin of Ethics and the Rise of Moral Relativismp. 21
Evolutionary Progress as the Highest Goodp. 43
Organizing Evolutionary Ethicsp. 59
Devaluing Human Lifep. 71
The Value of Life and the Value of Deathp. 73
The Specter of Inferiority: Devaluing the Disabled and "Unproductive"p. 89
The Science of Racial Inequalityp. 103
Eliminating the "Inferior Ones"p. 127
Controlling Reproduction: Overturning Traditional Sexual Moralityp. 129
Killing the "Unfit"p. 145
War and Peacep. 163
Racial Struggle and Exterminationp. 183
Impactsp. 207
Hitler's Ethicp. 209
Conclusionp. 229
Notesp. 235
Bibliographyp. 279
Indexp. 305
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781403965028
ISBN-10: 1403965021
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 312
Published: 30th June 2004
Publisher: Palgrave USA
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.6 x 14.0  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.57
Edition Number: 1