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From political economy to sociology: Francis Galton and the social-scientific origins of eugenics


Having coined the word ‘eugenics’ and inspired leading biologists and statisticians of the early twentieth century, Francis Galton is often studied for his contributions to modern statistical biology. However, whilst documenting this part of his work, historians have frequently neglected crucial aspects of what motivated Galton to establish his eugenics research programme. Arguing that his work was shaped more by social than by biological science, this paper addresses these oversights by tracing the development of Galton's programme, from its roots in a debate about political economy to his appeals for it to be taken up by sociologists. In so doing, the paper not only returns Galton's ideas to their original context but also provides a reason to reflect on the place of the social sciences in history-of-science scholarship.

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1 ‘Report of the Council for the Year 1876–1877, presented to the General Committee at Plymouth on Wednesday, August 15th, 1877’, Report of the Forty-Seventh Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science; Held at Plymouth in August 1877, 1878, p. xlix.

2 Galton Francis, ‘Considerations Adverse to the Maintenance of Section F (Economic Science and Statistics)’, in ‘Economic science and the British Association’, Journal of the Statistical Society of London (1877) 40, p. 471.

3 For example, Galton's most recent biographer, Nicholas Wright Gillham, does not even mention Galton's involvement in the debate about Section F. Indeed, whilst Karl Pearson discusses the issue, he concentrates on what it tells us about Galton's statistical mind. Gillham Nicholas Wright, A Life of Sir Francis Galton: From African Exploration to the Birth of Eugenics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Pearson Karl, The Life, Letters and Labours of Francis Galton, 3 vols., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1914–1924, vol. 2, pp. 347348.

4 For an attempt to relate Galton to such trends see Waller John C., ‘Gentlemanly men of science: Sir Francis Galton and the professionalization of the British life-sciences’, Journal of the History of Biology (2001) 34, pp. 83114.

5 Amongst the most widely cited and recent of the vast number of studies of the biometrician/Mendelian disputes are Gayon Jean, Darwinism's Struggle for Survival: Heredity and the Hypothesis of Natural Selection, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998, pp. 197319; Donald A. MacKenzie, ‘Sociobiologies in competition: the biometrician–Mendelian debate’, in Charles Webster (ed.), Biology, Medicine and Society, 1840–1940, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981, pp. 243–288; idem, Statistics in Britain, 1865–1930: The Social Construction of Knowledge, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1981, Chapters 5 and 6; William B. Provine, The Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001. Galton features in histories of a wide range of fields, from psychology to fingerprinting. For example, see Fancher Raymond E., Pioneers of Psychology, 3rd edn, London: Norton, 1996, pp. 216245; and Browne Douglas Gordon and Hill Brock Alan Saint, Fingerprints: Fifty Years of Scientific Crime Detection, London: George G. Harrap, 1953.

6 Kevles Daniel J., In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity, New York: Knopf, 1985, Chapter 1. See also Paul Diane B., Controlling Human Heredity: 1865 to the Present, Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press, 1998.

7 For more on eugenics, genetics and evolutionary biology in the early twentieth century see Depew David J. and Weber Bruce H., Darwinism Evolving: Systems Dynamics and the Genealogy of Natural Selection, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996, Part 2; M.J.S. Hodge, ‘Biology and philosophy (including ideology)’, in Sarkar Sahotra (ed.), The Founders of Evolutionary Genetics: A Centenary Reappraisal, Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1992, pp. 231293.

8 MacKenzie, Statistics in Britain, op. cit. (5); Cowan Ruth Schwartz, ‘Francis Galton's statistical ideas: the influence of eugenics’, Isis (1972) 63, pp. 509528; idem, ‘Nature and nurture: the interplay of biology and politics in the work of Galton’ Francis, Studies in History of Biology (1977) 1, pp. 133208; idem, Sir Francis Galton and the Study of Heredity in the Nineteenth Century, New York: Garland, 1985; Pearson, op. cit. (3); Forrest Derek William, Francis Galton: The Life and Work of a Victorian Genius, London: Elek, 1974; Bulmer Michael, Francis Galton: Pioneer of Heredity and Biometry, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003; Gillham, op. cit. (3).

9 Cowan, ‘Nature and nurture’, op. cit. (8); Peart Sandra J. and Levy David M., ‘Denying human homogeneity: eugenics and the making of post-classical economics’, Journal of the History of Economic Thought (2003) 25, pp. 261288; Paul Diane B. and Day Benjamin, ‘John Stuart Mill, innate differences, and the regulation of reproduction’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biology and the Biomedical Sciences (2008) 39, pp. 222231.

10 Bowler Peter, The Mendelian Revolution: The Emergence of Hereditarian Concepts in Modern Science and Society, London: Athlone, pp. 6473.

11 Cairnes J.E., Essays in Political Economy: Theoretical and Applied, London: Macmillan, 1873, pp. 232233.

12 Bagehot Walter, ‘The postulates of English political economy. No. 1’, Fortnightly Review (1876) NS 19, p. 215.

13 Of course, the coherence of such a narrative – in particular the nature of Smith and Ricardo's contributions to the form and substance of mid-nineteenth-century political economy – has frequently been disputed. However, the point remains that most political economists of the mid-nineteenth century saw themselves as working in the tradition of Smith and Ricardo, even if it is debatable whether either would have approved of the direction in which their work was taken. For a useful recent summary of this history see Margaret Schabas, ‘British economic theory from Locke to Marshall’, in Theodore M. Porter and Dorothy Ross (eds.), The Cambridge History of Science, vol. 7: The Modern Social Sciences, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 171–182.

14 For useful summaries of classical theory see Hutchison T.W., On Revolutions and Progress in Economic Knowledge, Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 1978, Chapters 2 and 3; and Schabas, op. cit. (13).

15 Sidgwick Henry, The Principles of Political Economy, 2nd edn, London: Macmillan, 1887, p. 4. Indeed, as H.S. Foxwell – the economist Alfred Marshall's colleague at Cambridge University – wrote in 1887, classical political economy was ‘secure in public esteem on account of the commercial prosperity which set in with the second half of the [nineteenth] century’ – something that was ‘popularly attributed to the policy inaugurated in 1846’. Foxwell H.S., ‘The economic movement in England’, Quarterly Journal of Economics (1887) 2, p. 84.

16 Political Economy Club of London, Minutes of Proceedings, 1821–1882, Roll of Members, and Questions Discussed, vol. 4, London, 1882, p. 5. For more on the role of the Political Economy Club in British economics see Henderson James P., ‘The oral tradition in British economics: influential economists in the Political Economy Club of London’, History of Political Economy (1983) 15, pp. 149179.

17 Collini Stefan, Public Moralists: Political Thought and Intellectual Life in Britain, 1850–1930, Oxford: Clarendon, 1991; Goldman Lawrence, Science, Reform, and Politics in Victorian Britain: The Social Science Association, 1857–1886, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. See also Searle G.R., Morality and the Market in Victorian Britain, Oxford: Clarendon, 1998.

18 Price Bonamy, ‘Address on economy and trade’, Transactions of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science: Cheltenham Meeting, 1878, 1879, p. 116.

19 Thorold Rogers James E., The Economic Interpretation of History. Lectures Delivered in Worcester College Hall, Oxford, 1887–8. London, 1888, p. vii.

20 Sidgwick, op. cit. (15), 4–5; Mill John Stuart, ‘Thornton on labour and its claims’, Fortnightly Review (1869) NS 5, p. 517.

21 For more on the marginal revolution see the special issue in the 1972 volume of History of Political Economy. See also Maas Harro, William Stanley Jevons and the Making of Modern Economics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

22 For more on the origins of the BAAS's statistical section, which was founded after a talk from the Belgian astronomer and mathematician Adolphe Quételet, see Goldman Lawrence, ‘The origins of British “social science”: political economy, natural science and statistics, 1830–1835’, Historical Journal (1983) 26, pp. 587616.

23 Morrell Jack and Thackray Arnold, Gentlemen of Science: Early Years of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Oxford: Clarendon, 1981, p. 296. Indeed, for a period during the mid-nineteenth century, reports of the BAAS meetings carried only abstracts of presentations to Section F.

24 Quoted in Farr's testimony in ‘Proceedings of the forty-third anniversary meeting’, Journal of the Statistical Society of London (1877) 40, pp. 342343. Original report not present in BAAS archives.

25 Galton, op. cit. (2), p. 471.

26 J.K. Ingram, ‘Presidential address’, Report of the Forty-Eighth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science; Held at Dublin in August 1878, Section F – Economic Science and Statistics, 1879, pp. 642, 641.

27 Pearson, op. cit. (3), ii, p. 348. Indeed, Pearson argued that if Galton's definition of science were ‘rigidly applied’ then ‘it would exclude large regions of biology, including possibly the doctrine of evolution’.

28 Galton's turn to heredity is noted in his wife Louisa's diary, which is transcribed in Pearson, op. cit. (3), ii, p. 70. Galton, The Art of Travel: Or, Shifts and Contrivances Available in Wild Countries, London, 1855. Galton produced five editions of The Art of Travel during his lifetime, the last of which appeared in 1872 and has since been reprinted frequently.

29 Galton, Memories of My Life, 3rd edn, London: Methuen, 1909, p. 287.

30 Galton, op. cit. (29), p. 288.

31 Galton, op. cit. (29), p. 289.

32 Galton, ‘Hereditary talent and character’, MacMillan's Magazine (1865) 12, p. 157.

33 Galton, op. cit. (32), p. 165.

34 Galton, op. cit. (32), p. 165.

35 Galton, op. cit. (32), p. 165.

36 MacKenzie, Statistics in Britain, op. cit. (5), pp. 52–56.

37 Galton, op. cit. (29), p. 288.

38 Galton, Hereditary Genius, London, 1869, p. 2. Diane B. Paul also notes that Galton's view that heredity underpinned social success and progress was not widely held at this time. See Diane B. Paul, ‘Darwin, social Darwinism and eugenics’, in Jonathan Hodge and Gregory Radick (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Darwin, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 229.

39 For more on the history of ‘economic man’ and its problematic place in economic science see Morgan Mary, ‘Economic Man as model man: ideal types, idealization and caricatures’, Journal of the History of Economic Thought (2006) 28, pp. 127. For an extended analysis see Davis John B., The Theory of the Individual in Economics: Identity and Value, London: Routledge, 2003.

40 Galton, op. cit. (38), p. 14. As one of my reviewers pointed out, it is possible that Galton had John Stuart Mill – whom he knew – in mind when he made these criticisms. However, Mill never appears as an explicit target in Galton's writings or correspondence. For an account that uses Mill's views of the origins of human differences as a prism through which to understand an aspect of the debate that Galton was entering see Paul and Day, op. cit. (9). For eugenics and post-classical economics see Peart and Levy, op. cit. (9).

41 Indeed, Galton is seen by a number of scholars as being part of a larger group that helped initiate and shape a debate about human evolution and progress that Darwin later joined with his book of 1871, The Descent of Man. See Paul, op. cit. (38), pp. 215–217; and Richards Robert J., Darwinism and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behaviour, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987, Chapter 4.

42 Cowan, ‘Nature and nurture’, op. cit. (8), pp. 153–158. Cowan's argument is that Galton can be understood as being part of a trend of scepticism about the certainty of social progress amongst Victorian intellectuals, which has been noted by some historians of ideas. For example, see Houghton Walter E., The Victorian Frame of Mind, 1830–1870, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957; Burn W.L., The Age of Equipoise: A Study of the Mid-Victorian Generation, London: Allen & Unwin, 1964.

43 Galton, op. cit. (32), p. 166.

44 Galton, ‘Hereditary improvement’, Fraser's Magazine (1873) 7, p. 116.

45 Galton, op. cit. (44), p. 120.

46 Galton, op. cit. (32), p. 157.

47 Galton, op. cit. (38), p. 37.

48 Galton, op. cit. (38), p. 10.

49 Galton, op. cit. (29), p. 304.

50 Quételet's two main works of this period were Sur l'homme et le développement de ses facultés, ou, Essai de physique sociale of 1835, and Lettres sur les probabilités of 1845. Galton directed his readers to the 1849 English translation of the latter work: Galton, op. cit. (38), p. 26. For the historical background and development of error theory see Hacking Ian, The Taming of Chance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990; Stigler Stephen M., The History of Statistics: The Measurement of Uncertainty before 1900, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986; Gooday Graeme, The Morals of Measurement: Accuracy, Irony, and Trust in Late Victorian Electrical Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, Chapter 2. See also Victor Hilts's essay on the comparisons between Quételet and Galton's work, ‘Statistics and social science’, in Ronald N. Giere and Richard S. Westfall (eds.), Foundations of Scientific Method: The Nineteenth Century, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973, pp. 206–233.

51 Galton, op. cit. (38), p. 33.

52 Gökyigit Emel Aileen, ‘The reception of Francis Galton's Hereditary Genius in the Victorian periodical press’, Journal of the History of Biology (1994) 27, pp. 215240.

53 Pearson, op. cit. (3), vol. 2, p. 115.

54 Darwin Charles, The Variation of Plants and Animals under Domestication, 2 vols., London: John Murray, 1868, vol. 2, Chapter 27, p. 374.

55 Darwin, op. cit. (54), vol. 2, p. 374.

56 For a long-term view of Darwin's ideas on this subject see M.J.S. Hodge, ‘Darwin as a lifelong generation theorist’, in David Kohn (ed.), The Darwinian Heritage, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985, pp. 207–243.

57 Galton, op. cit. (38), p. 373.

58 Galton, op. cit. (38), pp. 371–373.

59 Darwin, op. cit. (54), vol. 2, p. 374.

60 Galton was aided in the initial stages of the experiments by Dr Murie, prosecutor of the Zoological Gardens in London, and later by the assistant prosecutor, Oscar Fraser.

61 Emma Darwin to Henrietta Darwin, 19 March 1870, in Pearson, op. cit. (3), vol. 2, p. 158. There was a brief sign of success when, in May 1870, a white foot appeared amongst the litters of grey rabbits. Galton soon discovered, though, that it was a common occurrence, even amongst pure breeds. See Galton to Darwin, 12 May 1870, and Pearson's commentary in Pearson, op. cit. (3), vol. 2, p. 160.

62 Galton, op. cit. (29), p. 297.

63 Galton, ‘Experiments in pangenesis, by breeding from rabbits of a pure variety, into whose circulation blood taken from other varieties had previously been largely transfused’, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (1870–1871) 19, p. 404.

64 Darwin, ‘Pangenesis’, Nature (1871) 3, p. 502.

65 Galton, ‘Pangenesis’, Nature (1871) 4, p. 5. For more on the pangenesis dispute see Gillham, op. cit. (3), Chapter 13; Pearson, op. cit. (3), vol. 2, Chapter 10B; Cowan, ‘Nature and nurture’, op. cit. (8); Gayon, op. cit. (5), pp. 105–115.

66 See Galton and Darwin's correspondence, in Pearson, op. cit. (3), vol. 2, pp. 166–177.

67 Galton, ‘A theory of heredity’, Contemporary Review (1875) 27, p. 81. See also idem, ‘On blood-relationship’, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (1871–1872) 20, pp. 394–402.

68 Indeed, while Galton mentioned pangenesis in Natural Inheritance – his landmark publication – he did not mention the stirp. The historiographic trend, begun by Pearson, op. cit. (3), vol. 2, pp. 170–173, and most recently exemplified by Gillham, op. cit. (3), pp. 181–183, has been to present Galton's ideas in terms of their relationship to later orthodoxy. Galton's ‘anticipation’ of the continuity of the germ plasm, for example, is often justified with reference to a letter of 1889 from August Weismann to Galton in which Weismann apologised for not having known earlier of Galton's work on the theory of heredity. Weismann to Galton, 23 February 1889, in Pearson, op. cit. (3), vol. 3a, p. 341.

69 Galton, Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development, London: Macmillan, 1883, p. 17 n. 1. During this period, Galton also endeavoured to bring his statistical innovations to bear on intellectual capacities through a range of innovative methods, including standardized questionnaires and composite photography. However, despite their important place in the history of psychology, Galton's methods and results were frequently problematic in terms of the overall project in which he was engaged. See Fancher, op. cit. (5); Gillham, op. cit. (3), Chapter 16.

70 Galton, ‘On a proposed statistical scale’, Nature (1874) 9, pp. 342343.

71 Galton, ‘Statistics by intercomparison, with remarks on the Law of Frequency of Error’, London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science (1875), series 4, 49, p. 35. The probable error – now known as the standard deviation – describes the spread of data.

72 Galton, ‘Typical laws of heredity’, Proceedings of the Royal Institution (1877) 8, pp. 290291, 290.

73 Galton, op. cit. (72), pp. 290, 291. Galton's confidence on this point was motivated by the common belief that sweet peas are not subject to cross-fertilization, which has subsequently been shown to be false.

74 Galton, op. cit. (72), p. 291.

75 Galton, ‘Family records’, The Times, 9 January 1884, p. 10; Galton, Record of Family Faculties, London: Macmillan, 1884. For the calculation of the worth of Galton's prizes see O'Donoghue Jim, Goulding Louise and Allen Grahame, ‘Consumer price inflation since 1750’, Economic Trends (2004) 604, pp. 4143. The prize money came from Galton's private wealth, which he had inherited in 1844 from his father, Samuel Tertius Galton, who was a successful banker.

76 As Raymond Fancher points out, a number of the seventeen measurements, including reaction times and head size, were rooted in Galton's belief that they were indicators of intellectual ability: Fancher, op. cit. (5), pp. 216–217. However, as with his other efforts in this respect (see note 69 above), the Anthropometric Laboratory data did not enable Galton to substantiate such beliefs.

77 Galton, ‘Prize records of family faculties’, The Times, 9 May 1884, p. 9; ‘Prize family record’, The Times, 27 June 1884, p. 12.

78 Galton, ‘On the Anthropometric Laboratory at the late International Health Exhibition’, Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (1885) 14, p. 206.

79 Galton, ‘Retrospect of work done at my Anthropometric Laboratory at South Kensington’, Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (1892) 21, p. 32.

80 For example, in the case of height, Galton multiplied female measurements by 1.08 – the factor he had calculated as accounting for the general difference in stature of men and women.

81 Galton, ‘Presidential address’, Report of the Fifty-Fifth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science; Held at Aberdeen in September 1885, Section H – Anthropology, 1886, p. 1208.

82 Galton, op. cit. (81), p. 1207.

83 Galton, op. cit. (81), p. 1209.

84 Galton, op. cit. (81), p. 1210. Galton's development of regression was highly problematic. See Stigler, op. cit. (50), pp. 294–297. See also Magnello M. Eileen, ‘Karl Pearson's mathematization of inheritance: from ancestral heredity to Mendelian genetics (1895–1909)’, Annals of Science (1998) 55, pp. 3594.

85 Galton, ‘Family likeness in eye-colour’, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (1886) 40, pp. 402416; idem, Regression towards mediocrity in heredity stature’, Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (1886) 15, pp. 246263; idem, President's address’, Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (1886) 15, pp. 488500.

86 Galton, Natural Inheritance, London, 1889, p. 28. For further elaboration on and illustrations of this point see Gayon, op. cit. (5), pp. 170–172; Gould Stephen Jay, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002, pp. 342351.

87 Galton, op. cit. (69), p. 334.

88 For background and further detail on the biometrician–Mendelian dispute see sources cited in note 5.

89 Pearson, op. cit. (3), vol. 3a, pp. 87–88.

90 Indeed, having helped found the Committee for Conducting Statistical Inquiries into Measurable Characteristics of Plants and Animals at the Royal Society of London in 1894 with Weldon, Galton then opened the committee up to Bateson and other non-biometricians in 1897 when he renamed it the Evolution (Plants and Animals) Committee. However, the result was the intellectual alienation of the two groups, which was symbolized by Weldon and Pearson's departure from the Royal Society committee to found the journal Biometrika in 1901, and a high level of personal animosity that was only brought to an end by Weldon's untimely death in 1906.

91 For more on the concerns about the fitness of Boer War recruits and related concerns about degeneration see Soloway Richard A., Demography and Degeneration: Eugenics and the Declining Birthrate in Twentieth-Century Britain, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990, Chapter 3; Paul, op. cit. (6), Chapter 1; Mazumdar Pauline M.H., Eugenics, Human Genetics and Human Failings: The Eugenics Society, Its Sources and Its Critics in Britain, London: Routledge, 1992, Chapter 1; Kevles, op. cit. (6), Chapter 5.

92 Chris Renwick, ‘The British debate about the identity of sociology, 1876–1908’, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Leeds, 2009; Otter Sandra den, British Idealism and Social Explanation: A Study in Late Victorian Thought, Oxford: Clarendon, 1996; Goldman Lawrence, ‘Foundations of British sociology 1880–1930: contexts and biographies’, Sociological Review (2007) 55, pp. 431440; Halliday R.J., ‘The sociological movement, the Sociological Society and the genesis of academic sociology in Britain’, Sociological Review (1968) 16, pp. 377398.

93 Durkheim Emile, ‘On the relation of sociology to the social sciences and to philosophy (abstract of paper)’, Sociological Papers (1904) 1, pp. 197200.

94 Victor Branford to Patrick Geddes, 12 October 1904, Geddes Papers, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, MS 10556, f. 58.

95 Victor Branford to Lady Victoria Welby, 12 April 1904, Welby Collection, Clara Thomas Special Collections and Archives, York Univeristy, Toronto, MS 1970-010/002, folder 2.

96 For more on the audience participants see ‘Discussion – eugenics: its definition, scope and aims’, Sociological Papers (1904) 1, pp. 5363.

97 Galton, ‘Eugenics: its definition, scope and aims’, Sociological Papers (1904) 1, pp. 4350. This paper was subsequently published in Nature (1904) 70, p. 82 – and was included in Galton's compilation of essays: Galton, Essays in Eugenics, London: Eugenics Education Society, 1909, Chapter 2.

98 Galton, op. cit. (97), p. 45.

99 Galton, op. cit. (97), p. 46.

100 Galton, op. cit. (97), p. 50.

101 Galton, op. cit. (97), p. 48.

102 Galton, op. cit. (97), p. 49.

103 See ‘Discussion – eugenics’, op. cit. (96).

104 Radick Gregory, ‘Introduction: why what if?’, Isis (2008) 99, pp. 547551; John Henry, ‘Ideology, inevitability, and the Scientific Revolution’, ibid., pp. 552–559; Peter Bowler, ‘What Darwin disturbed: the biology that might have been’, ibid., pp. 560–567; Steven French, ‘Genuine possibilities in the scientific past and how to spot them’, ibid., pp. 568–575 ; Steve Fuller, ‘The normative turn: counterfactuals and a philosophical historiography’, ibid., pp. 576–584. For more on the history of counterfactual reasoning and explanation by historians see Niall Ferguson, ‘Introduction. Virtual History: towards a “chaotic” theory of the past’, in idem (ed.), Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals, London: Picador, 1998, pp. 1–90.

105 Famously, of course, Robert W. Fogel was awarded the Nobel Prize for economics in 1993 – jointly with Douglass North – for a counterfactual investigation of the role of railroads in economic growth.

106 Shapin Steven, review of Noretta Koertge, New Dictionary of Scientific Biography, BJHS (2009) 42, pp. 116117.

I wish to thank Gregory Radick, Thomas Dixon, Adrian Wilson and two anonymous referees for reading and offering valuable comments on various different drafts of this paper. I would also like to thank Richard C. Gunn, Jonathan Hodge, Christopher Kenny and everyone present at an ‘Informal Seminar’ held by the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science at University of Leeds, where the research on which this paper is based was first presented. Furthermore, I wish acknowledge the Arts and Humanities Research Council's financial support and thank Jon Agar for his welcome assistance and encouragement.

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