Evolutionism and Its Critics is a critical history of evolutionary theories in the social sciences and a defense of them against their many critics. Sanderson deconstructs not only the wide array of social evolutionary theories, but the criticisms of the antievolutionists. Deconstructing evolutionary theories means laying bare their fundamental epistemological, methodological, conceptual, and theoretical assumptions and principles. Deconstructing antievolutionism means showing just where and how the critics have, for the most part, gone wrong. But Evolutionism and Its Critics aims to reconstruct as well as deconstruct and does this by building on the shoulders of past giants of evolutionary theorizing a comprehensive evolutionary interpretation of human society based on abundant scientific and historical evidence.
“A welcome addition to the literature on revolutions…informative and thought provoking…a useful introduction for students.”—Contemporary Sociology
Praise for Social Evolutionism
“Social Evolutionism is one of the most important books I have read in recent years. It cuts through the nihilism and anti-scientism of the past decade with a splendidly shiny blade. It should be mandatory reading for every student of the social sciences. Professors—even those who disagree—will need to read it, as well. Sanderson covers much of the recent theoretical literature in the social sciences. His expositions of the works of leading figures make for one brilliant tour de force after another. Sanderson attacks after the most painstaking effort to make sure that he has not misrepresented his adversaries. I found the book as exciting as it is informative and have been urging everyone I know to get hold of it at once.”
—Marvin Harris, University of Florida
“The text is superb. With great rigor of analysis and clarity of presentation, [Sanderson] examines the writings of the leading practitioners and critics of social evolutionism, pruning away what he deems unsound or inadequate, and leaving in place a substantial and impressive intellectual structure. The combination of clear and compelling arguments and lucid and accessible writing makes this book…easily the outstanding treatment of the subject in print. It deserves wide currency and should become the standard textbook for any sociology or anthropology course on sociocultural evolution.”
—Robert L. Carneiro, American Museum of Natural History
1. The Nature of Social Evolutionism 2. Classical Evolutionism: I 3. The Antievolutionary Reaction 4. Marxism as Evolutionism 5. Classical Evolutionism: II 6. The Evolutionary Revival 7. Sociological Evolutionism: I 8. Anthropological Evolutionism Since 1960 9. Sociological Evolutionism: II 10. Evolutionary Biology and Social Evolutionism 11. Contemporary Antievolutionism 12. Evolutionary Materialism: A General Theory of Social Evolution