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American Philosophical Society
Fighting for the Good Cause: Reflections on Francis Galton's Legacy to American Hereditarian Psychology
Gerald Sweeney (au). Sir Francis Galton is well understood to have served as an influential mentor for the educational psychologists who supplied crucial doctrine to American eugenics in its classic period, 1903 to 1930. Yet the nature of his influence has never been specified. The psychologists' own claim as to the Galton's contribution -- that he provided sufficient justification for their absolutist hereditarianism -- was clearly disingenuous. Rather, the English polymath appears to have functioned in large part as a model for these figures, who appear to have been instrumentally informed by their perceptions of Galton's ulterior purposes in constructing eugenics as he did. Any of various features in the 45-year-long course of that development could have encouraged these particular legatees to appreciate both Galton & his product as surreptitious stanchers of democracy.
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