ADVANTAGES

Most American sociologists also turned away from biology. Many early American sociologists supported ameliorative social policies, whether for religious or secular reasons, and would have been appalled to read an 1883 New York Times editorial inveighing against sociology as “the selfish sciences” after a talk by William Graham Sumner. By the 1890s, leading American sociologists seeking to define the new discipline were rejecting any need for analogies to, much less foundations in, the biological sciences (Cravens 1978). For some, altruism was a force to be reckoned with in both theory and practice and could not be understood from a biological perspective. For most, there seemed little to gain and much to lose by retaining a connection between sociology and biology.

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