Naziism, Biological Determinism, Sociobiology, and Evolutionary Theroy: Are They Necessairly Synonymous?
Richard Lerner's new book, Final Solutions: Biology, Prejudice, and Genocide, is a powerful and troubling treatise. It weaves together several topical strands into a direct, clear, and compelling argument. The chief strength of the book lies in its focus on a single aspect of Nazi ideology (biological determinism), the role played in the maintenance of that ideology by medical and biological scientists, and Lerner's warnings about those he views as the contemporary successors of these scientists. Unlike Lerner's other contributions to the scholarly literature, this book is less a psychological treatise than it is a polemical history of some behavioral sciences in the twentieth century, Lerner's argument is provocative, clearly reasoned, and demands consideration by social scientists, humanists, and those who would avoid both the repetition of the past and our ignorance of its costs and lessons.