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Yudin B. G. Conceiving of Human Life: Values of Preservation vs. Values of Change

In this article I am going to trace back some developments in mutual relations between culture, on one side, and scientific and technological advances, on the other side. To my mind, these observations could help to us to understand some aspects of current debates on goals, possibilities and limitations of extensive use of biological and medical sciences for the sake of preserving, restoring, prolonging, reconstructing or even constructing a new individual human existence. I want to emphasize the tremendous importance of different moral or, more fundamentally, value positions, for our perception of arising biomedical possibilities and, even more, for directing scientific and technological developments in this field.

To begin with, with regard to difference in perceiving life in general, not just human life, I would like to point out that Darwin’s conception of the origin of species through natural selection has not only had a profound influence on the scientific understanding of life. It turned to be a source of, or support for, different versions of naturalistic ethics as well. A very interesting trait of these developments is that there are striking intercultural differences in the acceptance and promulgation of these different versions of naturalistic ethics. First of all, it is interesting that the dissemination of Darwinism in Russia was often associated with a strong rejection of the ideas of “struggle for existence” and “survival of the fittest”.

Take, for example, Prince Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921), Russian philosopher, anarchist, geographer, natural historian, who was one of the most eager proponents of Darwinism in Russia. P. Kropotkin developed his own conception of evolution which goes not so much through struggle for existence, but through mutual aid; he acknowledged the presence of the struggle for existence only in the form of the extremely severe “struggle for existence which most species of animals have to carry on against an inclement Nature” (Kropotkin 1902). Yet his views presented only one of many expressions of the same ideas, which were widespread among Russian zoologists, botanists and biologists in general, as well as among the general public. Many Russian biologists were strong opponents of ideas of the prevalence of the ethos of struggle and at the same time supporters of ideas of harmony in interrelations between not only biological organisms, but first of all between humans.[i]

In his “Mutual Aid: a Factor of Evolution” (1902) Kropotkin himself referred to “the well-known Russian zoologist, Professor Kessler, the then Dean of the St. Petersburg University”.

According to Kropotkin, Kessler“struck me as throwing a new light on the whole subject. Kessler’s idea was, that besides the law of Mutual Struggle there is in Nature the law of Mutual Aid, which, for the success of the struggle for life, and especially for the progressive evolution of the species, is far more important than the law of mutual contest.” These views of Karl Kessler (1815-1881) were first presented in a lecture “On the Law of Mutual Aid” (1880), which was delivered at a Russian Congress of Naturalists in January 1880. Kropotkin also mentioned some other Russian zoologists who had gathered a lot of evidence of mutual aid in relations between animals, especially between birds.

Some of Kropotkin’s arguments turn to be essential for my subsequent deliberations. For instance, he refers to characteristics of Russian wild nature, especially in the most remote and severe parts of Russia, such as Eastern Siberia and Transbaikalia, which allow an observer to grasp the genuine importance of mutual aid and social instincts (sociability) for struggle for survival in such environmental conditions. This argument was used by Kropotkin to substantiate not just his own views on the subject, but conclusions drawn by many Russian zoologists in general. Competition and interspecies struggle may be more suitable for affluent conditions, whereas cooperation and mutual aid are necessary in the less favourable environment characteristic for many areas of Russia. These considerations were interpreted as evidence of the (evolutionary) priority of mutual aid.

Another line of argument in Kropotkin’s writings refers to an understanding of interspecies relations in animals as a model for explaining interrelations between humans. These considerations are of great importance not only for naturalistic ethics in general, which became so popular after Darwin, but also for a specific version of naturalistic ethics that Kropotkin himself had developed. Yet in other cases arguments which have been borrowed from a description of social interrelationships are used as a possible means of construing explanations of evolution in animals. For instance, referring to a study of French philosopher and sociologist, adherent of evolutionary theory A. Espinas (Espinas 1877), he remarks:

“Espinas devoted his main attention to such animal societies (ants, bees) as are established upon a physiological division of labour, and though his work is full of admirable hints in all possible directions, it was written at a time when the evolution of human societies could not yet be treated with the knowledge we now possess.” (Kropotkin 1902)


We can see that in this observation Kropotkin in fact perceives developments in (and even notions from) science of human society as a prerequisite for the understanding and explanation of phenomena of animal behaviour.

Another essential aspect of Kropotkin’s argumentation is that he distinguishes between two different approaches to studying living nature: “As soon as we study animals not in laboratories and museums only, but in the forest and the prairie, in the steppe and the mountains  we at once perceive…”(ibid., emphasis mine). Kropotkin here draws a sharp distinction between two positions: one of them is that of a researcher who gains knowledge through experiments in the laboratory and, consequently, interferes with nature; another is the position of a naturalist (or natural historian), who spends his time in expeditions and gains new knowledge through pure, non-interferential observations of nature. It is clear that Kropotkin prefers the second position. The same value is manifested when Kropotkin refers to the authority of a prominent naturalist, I. Goethe:

The importance of the Mutual Aid factor – “if its generality could only be demonstrated” – did not escape the naturalist's genius so manifest in Goethe. When Eckermann once told Goethe – it was in 1827 -- that two little wren-fledglings, which had run away from him, were found by him next day in the nest of robin redbreasts (Rothkehlchen), who fed the little ones together with their own youngsters, Goethe grew quite excited about this fact. He saw a confirmation of his pantheistic views in this anecdote, and said: – “If it be true that this feeding of a stranger goes through all Nature as something having the character of a general law – then many an enigma would be solved.” He returned to this matter on the next day, and most earnestly entreated Eckermann (who was, as is known, a zoologist) to make a special study of the subject, adding that he would surely come “to quite invaluable treasuries of results” (ibid.).

Strictly speaking, Kropotkin’s reasoning in this case is incorrect, because Goethe’s observation concerned aid not to an individual of the same species, but to a stranger. Nevertheless, this example is important for Kropotkin, because it demonstrates the “naturalness” of such generous behaviour in the animal world.

It is worth mentioning that Darwin took both positions in his conception of evolution. On the one hand, when he made observations during his travel on Beagle ship. On the other hand he had from the very beginning of his studies taken a mode of activity of selectionists as a pattern for grasping the genuine meaning of variability. In other words, his initial intuitions came back as interventions into living beings, in the manner of researchers conducting experiments.

Bearing in mind the main topic of this article – values of preservation vs. values of change – it makes sense to shortly explain Kropotkin’s views on the evolution of social institutions. He discusses phenomena of possible “parasitic growth” of some Mutual Aid institutions and the revolt of individuals against these institutions, which become a “hindrance to progress”. This revolt can take two different forms:

Part of those who rose up strove to purify the old institutions, or to work out a higher form of commonwealth, based upon the same Mutual Aid principles; they tried, for instance, to introduce the principle of ‘compensation,’ instead of the lex talionis, and, later on, the pardon of offences or a still higher ideal of equality before the human conscience, in lieu of ‘compensation,’ according to class-value. But at the very same time, another portion of the same individual rebels endeavoured to break down the protective institutions of mutual support, with no other intention but to increase their own wealth and their own powers. In this three-cornered contest, between the two classes of revolting individuals and the supporters of the status quo, lies the real tragedy of history” (ibid.).

So, even progress of social institutions can be carried out by those who are inspired by values of preservation!

The same values expressed in another form were also predominant in the thinking of a rather original Russian religious thinker and philosopher of that time, Nickolay Fedorov (1829-1903), who in his “Philosophy of Common Cause” (1906; 1913) posed before science and, even more, before humankind in general, the overall goal of not just preserving lives of all living humans, but to resurrect, to revive all those who had died. In this case we can speak even about over-preservation.

It is worth to also mention the position of one of the most famous Russian scientists of that time, botanist Kliment Timiryazev (1843 – 1920), who made a lot to propagate Darwinism in Russia. In particularly, Timiryazev prepared one of many Russian translations of “Origin of Species” In an introductory article to his translation he made this characteristic remark:

all… complex aggregates of mutual relations between living beings, as well as with the environment, Darwin, allegorically and for short, called struggle for existence. It seems that nothing else brings so much harm to his teaching as this metaphor, use of which he would have been able to avoid, could he have foreseen the conclusions which would be drawn from it.” (Timiryazev 1896).

Later, in the next decade, Timiryazev wrote: “I call the expression ‘struggle for existence’ an unfortunate one… It is far from necessary, as becomes evident from the fact that I was able to deliver the whole course of Darwinism (“Historical Method in Biology”), never mentioning the word ‘struggle’.” (Timiryazev 1938: 31).

Incidentally, Ya. Gall notes: “Seemingly, the article by N. G. Chernyshevsky (1888), in which Darwin’s teaching was subjected to sharp criticism due to numerous attempts to use it from the part of Social Darwinians, had left a strong impression on Timiryazev” (Gall 1976: 17). I should point out here that ideas of the Russian Social Democratic thinker, writer Nickolay Chernyshevsky (1828-1889) were extremely influential at that time. And even he, who once called upon Russia “to take up the axe” to fight for better society, disagreed with ideas of struggle as a constituent of social interrelations (see Chernyshevsky 1888).

Now we will discuss some, perhaps rather limited, but nevertheless meaningful, correlations between, on the one side, ideas of intraspecific struggle (competition), experimental research (as a source of directed interventions which are carried out under artificially constructed conditions of laboratories) and change, and, on the other side, ideas of mutual aid (cooperation), observation (as non-interventional activity) and pre- (or con-) servation. It seems possible to maintain at least some degree of affinity of intuitions and/or intentions underlying each of these sets. The next suggestion will be that the grounds of such affinity can be found at the level of values.


We shall now try to distinguish two different value orientations in the relation of humans to nature, including living nature, and, finally, to human life and human nature. One of these orientations stresses values of preservation, be it preservation of life on Earth or preservation of human life, health, rights, dignity, autonomy, etc. It underscores the need to preserve, to protect the surrounding order of things, which can be easily and irreversibly destroyed by our rash and unreasoned actions. These motives are particularly evident in tackling ecological problems arising in the course of biotechnological intrusions, such as the introduction of genetically modified organisms into the environment and the necessity of the protection of the environment.

Certainly, for the sake of preservation, we often need to make a lot of changes; yet all these changes are directed towards restoration of some impaired (presumably natural) conditions, states, structures, processes and functions.

According to another value orientation we can hold our interests and desires to be more important than the imperatives of the preservation of the nature around us. In this case nature is perceived, first of all, as a raw material to be transformed, more or less radically changed, on the basis of our designs and by means of our technologies in order to achieve our own goals. This means that nature is conceived as something devoid of intrinsic value and significance.

The opposition between these two value systems can be presented as an opposition between, on one side, the previously discussed stands of a naturalist as a (pure) observer of phenomena in the outer and inner world, and, on the other side, a researcher as someone who actively intervenes and produces changes in the world.

The first stand was vividly presented by I. Goethe, who urged that we should endeavour “to see things as they are”. To be sure, contemporary philosophy of science would disregard such a position of a “pure observer” as overly naïve, because it does not take into account the constructive potency of our cognition and, even more, of our perception. Indeed, strictly speaking, such a stand cannot be termed “pure observation”, because it presupposes some directedness of our interests and our values. Nevertheless, alongside its presumed weakness, it has also its own advantages.

According to such a position, we cognise nature in order to grasp its beauty, to admire its perfection or (in more modern versions) to find ways to save it. In other words, some kind of reverence for nature is presumed: nature has its own raison d’être and as such it deserves our respect regardless of our desires and intentions.

For the sake of clarification it is necessary to remark that research activity can be directed by such naturalistic aspirations. Yet research activity, first of all as it manifests itself in experimental research, contains this inner intention that today generates innumerable means for (sometimes drastically) changing nature around us as well as our own nature.

The second stand is very often perceived as the most adequate expression of the spirit of science as a research activity par excellence. One of the most influential proponents of this point of view was K. Marx, particularly in his famous eleventh thesis on Feuerbach: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it” (Marx 1969: 15). In the first of these theses Marx criticized the naturalistic position (which in this context is synonymous with so-called “contemplative materialism”) in these words:

The chief defect of all hitherto existing materialism - that of Feuerbach included - is that the thing, reality, sensuousness, is conceived only in the form of the object or of contemplation, but not as sensuous human activity, practice, not subjectively.” (ibid.: 13).

To put it in another way, nature unfolds its truthfulness, its real meaning and its value not in itself, but only as a milieu of change through human activities.

The eleventh thesis can be conceived in two different ways: either correct interpretation, explanation (and, consequently, understanding) of the world is a consequence, a by-product of our attempts to change the world, or in general the very creation of such interpretations is something non-obligatory and even superfluous for human activity. Our interventions can be effective even without any previous interpretation and understanding of phenomena, irrespective of whether such interpretation would be right or wrong.

It should be remarked here that Marx, in his writings after “Theses on Feuerbach”, especially after 1848, was not as radical in his rejection of interpretative and explanatory functions of philosophy and science. Moreover, it was he who developed the notion of a “natural-historical approach” in relation to the social world. According to such an approach, the historical evolution of social structures and institutions can and must be presented as generated by something like natural laws. After all, it is these laws that determine human activity in its diverse forms, and only by relying on these laws can we succeed in our efforts to change the social world.

Nevertheless, in his 11th thesis Marx vividly expressed the essence of the position which asserts change of the world as a primary goal and, consequently, value. According to an interpretation of Marx by P. Berger and T. Luckmann (1967), he made the most essential contribution to sociology of knowledge when he, in his “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844”, described interrelations between infrastructure (or basis, “Unterbau”) and superstructure (“Überbau”). Infrastructure in this case is nothing but human activity, whereas superstructure is the world generated by such activity. It is worth to note that such kinds of cause-effect relations turn out to be valid not just with regard to the realm of human knowledge: the 11th thesis does not imply such limitations. Therefore, the construction (which may be, but does not have to be, a social one - the same, mutatis mutandis, can be said about physical and biological construction as well), of the world can be interpreted as a specific form of changing it. Needless to say, Marx understood changing the world as at the same time changing humans who transform the outer world. Yet this transformation of the transformer himself was thought as a mediated transformation.


As became clear in the twentieth century, especially during its last decades, as well as in the first years of the twenty-first century, the distinction of two value systems is relevant not just for nature around us, but for our own, human nature as well. From the beginning of the twentieth century a variety of projects to transform and improve humans began to appear. (Some reservations seem necessary here: there were cases in which the necessity to stop degradation of humans, in a definite sense – to preserve or defend the existing genetic pool - was proclaimed. Eugenic programs, including sterilization, with such goals were launched in for instance the United States.) So, at that time the main direction of interests, discussions and even actions had turned from biology in general to human biology.

In the first decades of the twentieth century Russia was strongly influenced by ideas of radically changing existing humans to form new ones, inspired by the new regime and substantiated by some interpretations of Marxism. In the twenties there were many ideas and even attempts to combine social and biological ways of improving humans (including, for instance, eugenics, the use of psychoanalysis, attempts to experiment with crossbreeding humans with apes, and so on).[ii] Some Russian proponents of eugenics indicated the necessity of special programs of “social hygiene” to reach these goals. Yet in the end of the decade Soviet leaders had decided that it would be ideologically incorrect to use biological means for achieving this goal; only social means were acknowledged as permissible.

It is possible to give different explanations for this turn, but we have no opportunity here to discuss this complex and interesting issue. We can assume, however, that it is at least partly explainable by the Russian cultural traditions, which we described earlier. During the first years after the drastic changes that were experienced by the country in 1917, a sharp rejection of almost all previous traditions was extremely widespread. This meant that all kinds of changes were very much welcomed. Yet, at the end of the twenties, since about 1928, processes of returning to traditions had started – in this situation, a negative position with regard to radical biological interventions into humans gained a new impulse. Incidentally, for many decades this choice was a main obstacle for research in human genetics and attempts to use its possible achievements for therapeutic aims.

At about the same time, ideas of betterment of the population gained more and more influence in Germany. When the Nazis came to power, these ideas culminated in politics of “racial hygiene”, including the (physical) elimination of various categories of the population, which were perceived as inferior and as carriers of genetic burden.

We can note that both Germany under the Nazis and the Soviet Union during Stalin’s era tried to reach similar goals of forming new humans, but the means that were chosen to attain these goals were totally different. Nevertheless, in any case the issue at stake was not about changing the nature around us, but the nature of humans themselves.

The main accent in Germany was placed on biological measures. In the Soviet Union, on the contrary, there was at least a latent presumption that human biological nature should be preserved even in the course of enormous, radical changes of humans by social means. In other words, humans can be almost infinitely plastic in relation to social, educational influences, yet they are rather rigid with regard to interventions in their biology.

Note that ideas of change through education and upbringing were extended even to the realm of biology. In “creative Darwinism’, which was developed by the grievously famous Soviet agrobiologist Trofim Lysenko (1898-1976) and his followers, intraspecific struggle was refuted for the sake of inheritance of character traits acquired in an organism’s course of life, in particular due to the some kind of upbringing.

We can say that Russian culture in general is not so much inclined to borrow concepts for describing and understanding human capabilities and behaviour from biology and to use biology as a pattern for conceiving of social tasks. Even nowadays, when ideas of changing human nature through directed interventions in biological processes and mechanisms are becoming so widespread, it is possible to discern in Russia tendencies to improve humans mainly by social, psychological and pedagogical means.

An example can illustrate such tendencies. Some time ago one of my colleagues who is a psychologist told me that she had received an interesting proposal. She had been asked to take part in the preparation of specific training programs for children. The idea is that some wealthy Russians are interested in bringing up their children with particular personality traits.

There are many people in Russia who think that the previous Soviet system of education formed (with only rare exclusions) standardized types of personality - heavily dependent on social surroundings in his (her) attitudes and behaviour, trying to be indiscernible from others and easily subordinated to those endowed with any kind of power. Others, however, see a profound influence of traditional Russian culture in the prevalence of such types of personality.

In any case, we can state that the current system of education in Russia, despite all (even very essential) changes, to a large extent reproduces such personality types. Yet now some of the so called “new Russians”, i.e. those who are very wealthy and very successful in their business, wish to raise their children with different personal traits – strongly goal-directed, oriented toward achievement and heavy struggle for getting essential results in their activity, having well-developed communicative and leader’s abilities. All such traits, according to their understanding, are necessary for a person to be successful in future life. These parents were ready to pay substantial amounts of money for special educational courses, which would allow the development of such traits in their children. More than that, they are ready to provide financial support for the elaboration of psychological programs of training designed to form such young people with traits of personality that have been chosen in advance.

In this example, we can discern striking similarities with aspirations to choose personality traits for future offspring, which are so heavily debated in Western countries nowadays. Both cases represent the manifestation of a particularly technological approach to human life and human nature. Yet in the latter case interventions into genes are conceived as means for achieving the goal.

This example can be treated as characteristic for describing the main distinctive features of technological approach.

Firstly, it clearly shows an essentially technological way of not just doing but also grasping things, including such intimate things as the personality traits of one’s own child. This technological way of perceiving and thinking about the world presupposes that if someone has a clearly defined goal (say, some personality traits) and the necessary quantity of resources (first and foremost - money), he (she) can reach this goal by hiring professionals or experts who are able to collect or create all needed means. In our case these means are thoroughly directed interventions into human personality and the processes of its development.

We can go even further: not just some traits of a child, but the child as such is perceived in similar situations as begotten, as “made” by parents not just in the genetic or usual psychological sense, but also in this technological sense. In other words, the child is treated as a kind of constructed and even re-constructed entity, as someone generated not so much by nature but mainly by implementation of a human design.

Secondly, such a technological approach clearly presupposes and even requires thoroughly elaborated systems of measurement through diagnostics. Indeed, in our example it is necessary to have both a preliminary diagnosis of the person’s traits that are to be improved as well as diagnoses of subsequent stages on the way to the desired state.

It is evident that these diagnostic systems must be rather complex and multidimensional; they can be created only on the basis of developed categorizations, which allow systemization and classification of a huge variety of individual human persons. That means that those parents who want to get their child enhanced, in fact receive not just their own, unique child but some averaged product of technological manipulations.

Thirdly, this approach is based on an (latent) presumption according to which every human personality can be treated as nothing more than a collection of distinct traits. The possibility of systemic interconnections and interactions of these traits is not seriously taken into account. Nevertheless, due to these interconnections, such an “injection” of desired new traits can cause inconsistencies in the structure of personality with resulting frustrations. Similar considerations can be developed with regard to a systemic organization of links between personality and the social and cultural milieu in which the personality is included and formed. In other words, it is a real possibility that a personality, constructed or reconstructed by these psychosocial technologies, would meet quite serious difficulties due to his/her incongruities with prevailing social and cultural norms and values.

Fourthly, the example under discussion can be treated as one of the manifestations of the contemporary tendency to understand individual human life, or the individual human being, as something that is constructed, in this case socially constructed. Due to this understanding it is possible to pose such goals as deliberate re-construction of an entity, which is “naturally” constructed in ordinary processes of social interactions, including processes of generating and changing meanings, which are necessary (and often decisive) parts of these interactions.


 So, in our days a human being to an ever increasing extent becomes not only an object of scientific investigations, but a target for various technological influences as well. It seems that current bioethical debates on therapy vs. enhancement of humans reflect, among other things, an opposition of these two sets of values.[iii] Therapy in this case can be interpreted as a restoration (or preservation) of the existing human nature, whereas enhancement definitely implies its change.

A specific expression of this opposition can also be found in the realm of ethics of biomedical research. In its more traditional forms ethics of research stressed first of all risks and burdens for the participants. In every particular case, the involvement of humans in biomedical research is a risky endeavour that needs to be scientifically justified and ethically approved. A researcher has an obligation to guarantee a minimal or at least acceptable level of risks for a participant. The latter, in his/her turn, has a right to choose whether to become a participant in the research or not. This choice can be interpreted in the following way: the person in question decides whether to use ordinary, existing, approved methods of therapy, and to consequently preserve the current state of the art, or to promote search for new methods, hence, change.

Yet more modern versions of research ethics tend to stress the benefits a person can get by participating in research through progress in therapy. And some authors even talk about an obligation on the part of a person to agree to be a participant in research, in other words – an obligation to be personally involved in the promotion of change. As John Harris emphasizes: “where risks, dangers or inconvenience of research is minimal, and the research well founded and likely to be for the benefit of oneself or others, then there is some, perhaps very modest, moral obligation to participate.” and: “To fail to contribute to research is against the public interest and may harm others.”[iv] This argument is built on the premise that one’s participation in research is for the overall welfare of the community, but it is also presupposed that this common benefit can be achieved exactly by the way of some changes imposed on the person or manipulations with data concerning the person.

To conclude this discussion of two distinct value positions in relation to human life it is necessary to draw attention to one problem, which arises when values of change become dominant in conceiving of human life. In case of changes imposed by us on the world around us we can turn – manifestly or latently – to wishes, interests and so on of humans as a reference point. It gives us an opportunity to make judgments on the desirability, permissibility or necessity of our changing influences. In such a situation a human personality, understood as a goal in him/herself, can be presented as “a measure of all things”. This does not mean that in such a way we get a measure which is easily applicable to all situations; nevertheless, we have at least more or less reliable grounds for meaningful discussions of any particular case. In some sense this reference point makes it possible to speak of the unity of humankind as a whole.

Yet there is quite another situation that arises when the issue at stake is possibilities of changing humans themselves. Up to now, at least, we do not even have a hint of any commonly accepted measure to deal with different designs for technologically generated humans. The very possibility of the continued existence of humankind as a unity in this case does not seem to be certain.


Adams, M. “Eugenics in Russia 1900-1940.” In The Wellborn Science: Eugenics in Germany, France, Brazil, and Russia. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, 153-216.

Berger, P. and Luckmann, T. Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise on Sociology of Knowledge. London: Penguin, 1967.

Chernyshevsky, N.G. “Origin of the Theory of Beneficience of the Struggle for Life.” Russian Thought Sept. 1888, 79-114.

Espinas, A. Les Sociétés animales. Paris, 1877.

Fedorov, N. F. Philosophy of Common Cause. Moscow, 1906 (Vol. 1); 1913 (Vol. 2).

Gall, Ya. M. The Struggle for Existence as a Factor of Evolution. (In Russian.) Leningrad: Nayka Publishers, 1976.

Harris, J. “Research Ethics Committees – the future.” Notizie di Politeia 2002,Anno XVIII, 67, 123-138.

Kass, L. R. “Ageless Bodies, Happy Souls: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Perfection.” The New Atlantis Spring 2003, 9-28.

Kessler, K. Ph. “On the Law of Mutual Aid.” (In Russian). In Memoirs (Trudy) of the St. Petersburg Society of Naturalists. Vol. XI. 1880, 124-136.

Kropotkin, P. “Mutual Aid: a Factor of Evolution.” London: Heinemann, 1902. All citation from:

Marx, K. “Theses on Feuerbach.” In Marx/Engels Selected Works. Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1969, 15.

Rossiianov, K. “Gefährliche Beziehungen: Experimentelle Biologie und ihre Protektoren.” In In den Jungeln der Macht: Bildungsschichten unter totalitaeren Bedingungen. Ein Vergleich zwischen NS-Deutschland und der Sowjetunion unter Stalin. D Beyrau (ed.). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 2000, 340-359.

Timiryazev, K. “Meaning of Turn in Present-day Natural Science, Made by Darwin.” Introductory Article. (In Russian). In Origin of Species. C. Darwin. Russian translation by Prof. K. Timiryazev. Saint-Petersburg, 1896, VII.

Timiryazev, K. Collected Works. Vol. 5. Moscow, 1938, 31.

Yudin, B. “Russian Modernisations and Science.” In Development and Modernity. L. Gule and O. Storebo (eds.). Bergen: Ariadne, 1993, 83-99.

Yudin, B.” Human Experimentation in Russia / the Soviet Union in the First Half of the 20th Century.” In Twentieth Century Ethics of Human Subject Research. V. Roelcke and G. Maio (eds.). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2004, 99-110.


[i] Cf. Gall 1976, especially Chapter 1. “The Problem of Struggle for Existence in Evolution Theory of the 20th century.”

[ii] For more details see, for instance, Adams. 1990: 153-216; Rossiianov 2000: 340-359; Yudin 1993: 83-99; Yudin 2004: 99-110.

[iii] See, for instance, Kass 2003. See also the document prepared by the US President’s Council on Bioethics: “Distinguishing Therapy and Enhancement. Staff Working Paper.” (

[iv] Harris 2002: 128.

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