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British Idealism and Social ExplanationA Study in Late Victorian Thought$
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Sandra M. den Otter

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206002

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206002.001.0001

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Mill, Darwin, and the Idealists: Finding a Basis for Social Explanation

Mill, Darwin, and the Idealists: Finding a Basis for Social Explanation

(p.52) 2 Mill, Darwin, and the Idealists: Finding a Basis for Social Explanation
British Idealism and Social Explanation

Sandra M. Den Otter

Oxford University Press

Throughout the 19th century, the methods and discoveries of the natural sciences revolutionized social explanation. Victorian social theorists insisted that the positive sciences could not help but transform the logic of knowledge and hence the treatment of morals, politics, and religion. The eugenicist Karl Pearson expressed a common view when he declared in 1892 that there was no way to gain a knowledge of the universe except through the gateway of scientific method. In “A System of Logic” Mill's model of the moral sciences recognized how the science of society differed from these exact sciences, while attempting to apply the same principles of scientific rationality to the study of society. The idealists were also branded by Hegel's own controversial pronouncements on science.

Keywords:   social explanation, social theorists, politics, religion, Karl Pearson

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