David Ceccarelli

Ph.D. Candidate
Historical, Philosophical and Social Sciences
University of Rome Tor Vergata

2015 to 2016
Research Fellow

Between Cope and Osborn: the Role of the American Biological Discourse on the Public Debate on Evolution

My research project aims to analyze the active role that Edward Drinker Cope and Henry Fairfield Osborn played in the broader American debate on evolution between the nineteenth and the twentieth century. As it has been widely argued by many scholars, both Cope and Osborn sustained the common rejection of Darwinism by assuming an orthogenetic notion in evolution. Yet the empirico-theoretical core of their objections, we argue, exhibited many of the biological and cultural controversies which featured the transition between the two centuries. Along with this, their direct intervention on some extra-scientific issues, such as the compatibility between theism and evolution or the racial problems, seemed to extend the problematic nature of their contributions. The analysis of such a multifarious production will allow me to deal with the complex process of disciplinary intertwining that characterized the biological discourse in America. I thus expect that this case-study could clarify the relations that stand between the changing structure of evolutionary theories and the extra-scientific discourses which orbited around such explanations. Read the research report here.