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Between Progressivism and Institutionalism Albert Benedict Wolfe on Eugenics

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  • Luca Fiorito

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Abstract

Albeit concerned with the biological element in social evolution, Albert B. Wolfe was among the very few economists of the progressive era who openly expressed his concerns about certain implications of eugenic rhetoric for the social science. Specifically, Wolfe questioned the strong hereditary boundaries that more extreme eugenicists suggested about human beings. As I will attempt to show in paper, a careful examination of Wolfe’s writings reveals that his reaction was rooted in the belief that many of the social problems which eugenicists attributed to hereditary limitations, were actually imputable to the influence that the social, economic, and physical environment exercised on the individuals.

Suggested Citation

  • Luca Fiorito, 2012. "Between Progressivism and Institutionalism Albert Benedict Wolfe on Eugenics," Department of Economics University of Siena 644, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  • Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:644
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    File URL: http://repec.deps.unisi.it/quaderni/644.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thomas C. Leonard, 2005. "Mistaking Eugenics for Social Darwinism: Why Eugenics Is Missing from the History of American Economics," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 37(5), pages 200-233, Supplemen.
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    Keywords

    Eugenics; Institutionalism; Social Evolution; Progressivism; Wolfe; Albert Benedict;

    JEL classification:

    • B1 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925
    • B15 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary

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