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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

(p.245) 10 The Case of the Origin of the Incest Taboo
In Search of Human Nature

Carl N. Degler

Oxford University Press

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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