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In Search of Human NatureThe Decline and Revival of Darwinism in American Social Thought$
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Carl N. Degler

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780195077070

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195077070.001.0001

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The Case of the Origin of the Incest Taboo

The Case of the Origin of the Incest Taboo

Chapter:
(p.245) 10 The Case of the Origin of the Incest Taboo
Source:
In Search of Human Nature
Author(s):

Carl N. Degler

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195077070.003.0010

This chapter examines the anthropological aspects of the prohibition against incest taboo or marriage or sexual relations between certain close relatives. In his mid-19th century, studying of North American Indian tribes, Lewis Henry Morgan, sometimes called the father of American anthropology, accounted for the prohibition of incest by reference to a basic principle of animal breeding. This explanation was rejected by social scientists despite the powerful impetus given to biological explanations in accounting for differences in human behavior.

Keywords:   incest taboo, Lewis Henry Morgan, animal breeding, biological explanation, human behavior

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