Abstract

Abstract:

An instant bestseller, The Bell Curve (1994) by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray deployed psychological race science against enduring demands in the United States for social justice and equality of economic outcomes. Using new archival evidence, this article situates the book in a long-standing transatlantic exchange about race science that runs through the world of conservative philanthropy and free-market think tanks, with a special role played by the psychologist Richard Lynn. It also illuminates a broader shift in the history of free-market conservatism in the 1990s away from behaviorism, rational choice theory, and cost-benefit analysis and toward the idioms of differential psychology and intelligence. What I call the "new fusionism" defends libertarian policies through arguments borrowed from cognitive, behavioral, and evolutionary psychology and, in some cases, genetics and genomics, sociobiology, and biological anthropology. Assertions about the unequal mind became a renewed basis for attacks on political-economic equality.

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