Philosophy in the Trenches: Reflections on The Eugenic Mind Project

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Robert Wilson’s The Eugenic Mind Project is a major achievement of engaged scholarship and socially relevant philosophy and history of science. It exemplifies the virtues of interdisciplinarity. As principal investigator of the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada project, while employed in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Alberta, Wilson encountered a proverbial big ball of mud with questions and issues that involved local individuals living through a painful set of memories and implicated his institutional home in outstanding moral obligations. It is engaged scholarship because it required building relationships with affected persons and taking responsibility for his institution’s legacy, as well as transforming Wilson’s own outlook along the way. It is socially relevant philosophy and history of science because it brings to light issues that remain salient today, especially how eugenic themes are ubiquitous in societal discourse and evinced in everyday decisions. It is interdisciplinary because to accomplish this type of analysis requires intellectual gymnastics that range over diverse domains of research: from standpoint theory and disability studies to oral history and governmental policy; from the evolutionary biology of prosociality and variation to conceptual questions about the categorization of human traits and types.
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Archival date: 2019-01-11
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