Boas No Philosopher of Science

Fri, 14 Oct 1994 10:16:05 CST

A hearty thanks to L. Baker for calling attention to Boas's valuable
letters to Science. Boas' self-contradictory remarks about the "axiom"
that like effects have like causes (Who advanced such an untenable
universal, and why would anyone think that cultural evolutionism
depended on fully embracing it?) are useful evidence for a position I
long have held: Boas was an abysmal philosopher of science. I hasten
to add, however, that I consider his *Mind of Primitive Man* to have
offered cogent--and very important--arguments against the racist ideas
that (1) "Races" differ in cultural capacities, and (2) These difference
s in capacity are manifest in cultural "level" actually attained.
--Bob Graber