Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/421

This page needs to be proofread.

Reviews of Books

A BIOLOGICAL INTERPRETATION OF SOCIETY Social Environment and Moral Progress. By Alfred Russel Wallace. O.M., D.C.L. Oxon.. F.R.S., of The Malay Archipelago. Darwinism, Man's Place in the Universe, The World of Life, etc. Cassell & Co., Sew York. Pp. 181 (index). ($1.25 net.) THE opinions of a biologist on moral questions, on the contemporary social order as it stands, may be treated as the views of a specialist on matters outside his particular province or as logical deductions based on biological premises. If one approves Dr. Wal lace's biological method one is likely to accept the book as a sample of coherent scientific reasoning. That biology has a direct bearing on ethics no one can gainsay. Biology has a very broad meaning, but if this meaning is to be narrowed so as to give special emphasis to the principles of natural and artificial selection the biological method becomes synonymous with a special mode of thought, which may not have been super seded, but has so far been modified and supplemented by later developments as to be no longer characteristic of the age. The "biological" tendency is then a convenient designation which may be used to differentiate a certain Victorian stage of thought from a later psycho logical stage, and Professor Pound has employed this distinction in his lumi nous essay on "Sociological Jurispru dence." The venerable author of these reflections, whose name will be linked with that of Darwin in the annals of biological discovery, is not too confi dently to be assailed as old-fashioned, for he is neither a psychologist nor a sociologist, and it would not be hard to point to other exponents of a tradition

which is, as the saying is, still going strong. But the attitude is surely, none the less, to be classed as a nine teenth and not a twentieth century one. The cocksureness with which moral con clusions are stated is a bit surprising, but it was characteristic of the biological stage to put forward rather extravagant claims, and what seems opinionated and dogmatic now may have appeared ra tional and discreet not long ago. While a pessimistic survey of modern society would now have to supported by evi dence of more comprehensive character, we can well understand the satisfaction of the biologists with the adequacy of their narrow premises, just as we can understand how the contemporary craze for "eugenics," the latest phase of the principle of artificial selection, has come about as the result of their influence. The strictures of Dr. Wallace on con temporary society, regarded particularly in its moral and legal aspects, hardly call for detailed examination. Much of what he says may be true, much is merely matter of personal prejudice. That science alone can dissipate preju dice is illustrated by the faults not less forcefully than by the merits of this book. The law reformer and the crimi nologist are not less active than the eugenist in the work of amelioration, but Dr. Wallace seems to overlook this. PRESIDENT HADLEY ON TEN DENCIES IN PHILOSOPHY Some Influences in Modern Philosophic Thought: Being the fifth series of John Calvin McNair Lec tures before the University of North Carolina, de livered at Chapel Hill, April 19, 20 and 21. 1912. By Arthur Twining Hadley, President of Yale Uni versity. Yale University Press, New Haven. Pp. 142 + 4 (index). (81 net.)