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The Writings of Professor Robert M. Young

'Darwinism and the Division of Labour'39K

The founding conference of the British Society for the Social Responsibility in Science in November 1970, was on the theme, 'The Social Impact of Modern Biology'. The conference was attended by a number of eminent scientists, e.g., Nobel Laureates James Watson, Jaques Monod, Maurice Wilkins; David Bohm, Jacob Bronowski, R. G. Edwards (of Steptoe & Edwards, the pioneers of 'test-tube babies'), as well as some radicals, Hilary & Steven Rose, John Beckwith. It was, perhaps, the last moment when radicals and posh scientists were relatively united. Most of the scientists soon departed from the radical science movement (though not Wilkins). The conference was for me something of a coming out. My paper, 'Evolutionary Biology and Ideology: Then and Now', was a transitional one between liberal-radical thinking and libertarian Marxism. The conference generated a lot of media interest, and I was, for a time, something of a house leftie on BBC Radio 3, where two series of programmes were created around my ideas. One was on 'Science and Ideology' (see 'The Anthropology of Science'), and the other on the question, 'Are Hierarchies Necessary?' My talk on 'Darwinism and the Division of Labour' was the keynote one, followed by a roundtable discussion which included Jonathan Miller and Frank Kermode. The talk still pleases me as a highly-compressed version of my thinking at that time on the relations between scientific and ideological thinking before I explicitly merged these ways of thinking. The talk was published in The Listener, 17 August 1972, pp. 202-5 and in Science as Culture no. 9: 110-24, 1990. 

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Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young - Last updated: 28 May, 2005 02:29 PM

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