Social Darwinism

The application of Darwinism to the study of human society, specifically a theory in sociology that individuals or groups achieve advantage over others as the result of genetic or biological superiority.

1,972 Questions

What traits did social darwinism encourage?

Mainly struggle for survival, exploit the poor...

What is Social Darwinism?

Social Darwinism is a quasi-philosophical, quasi-sociological view that came from the mind of Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher in the 19th century. It did not achieve wide acceptance in England or Europe, but flourished in this country, as is true of many ideologies, religions, and philosophies. A good summary of Social Darwinism is by Johnson: In these years, when Darwin's Origin of Species, popularized by Herbert Spencer as "the survival of the fittest, " and applied to races as well as species in a vulgarized form, Social Darwinism, the coming Christian triumph was presented as an Anglo-Saxon Protestant one. Social Darwinism is by no means dead, for vestiges of it can be found in the present. ___________________________________________________________________ For a very biased, highly ideological view see: basically racism, It was used in the imperialistic ages to rationalize taking over other countries. "Survival of the Fittest" This phrase was made up by Herbert Spencer. Social Darwinism is an evolved form of Darwinism, a concept made up by Charles Darwin. == Social Darwinism was not the unified, monolithic theory that many seem to suppose. The versions espoused by Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) and Francis Galton (1822-1911) tried to identify the conditions necessary for the "survival of the fittest" in society as well as nature. They were aware that conditions in society are not, and cannot be, the same as in the "state of nature". Obviously, the last thing they wanted was fighting between the brawny lower orders and middle-class intellectuals like themselves. In society, "fitness" consists above all in intelligence and hard work (not brute physical fitness). It is no coincidence that Francis Galton played a pioneering role in developing the psychometric intelligence theory. The theory was popular among some because it seemed to provide a biological case for laissez faire capitalism, minimal welfare and low taxes. In some versions of Social Darwinism it was claimed the advanced technological achievements of parts of Europe and of North America demonstrated "racial superiority". In Europe, Social Darwinism was generally pessimistic, but in the U.S. it was seen as underpinning belief in the boundless potential of progress. Note that some historians believe that the role of Herbert Spencer in the development of Social Darwinism has been greatly exaggerated. In particular, Spencer tended towards versions of evolutionary theory that stressed mankind's adaptability rather than natural selection. Please see the link to the Wikipedia article on him, especially the section on evolution. Neither Herbert Spencer nor Francis Galton advocated social engineering, let alone biological engineering. Moreover, Charles Darwin himself urged against Social Darwinism. Eugenics - or selective human breeding - goes significantly beyond Social Darwinism.

What are some factors that affect human reaction rates?

There are a number of factors that affect human reaction rates. Temperature is one major factor that affects human reaction rates for example.

How can you use the words social Darwinism in a sentence?

An example of social darwinism is when Spain was beating up on Cuba before the Spanish-American war.

What the components of non-material culture?

Non material culture is composed solely on a groups way of thinking and patterns of behavior. in other words one can call this symbolic culture because how this group uses symbols, not necessarily a physical item in the possession, to develop and share their beliefs of their culture.

What is a wash bottle and how is it used?

A wash bottle is a plastic squeeze bottle that hold a liquid, such as water, soap, or solvents such as acetone, methanol, hexanes, etc. They are used to rinse out and gently spray water or solvent into something.

See the Web Links to the left for a picture and more information.

What advantages might a socialist system have in responding to the needs of the poor?

The socialist system is based on the notion of equality for everyone, everyone has a job and everyone has a place to live. Everyone has to forfeit their class rights in a socialist system. A socialist system has universal health care and dental care, childcare, as well as similar access to resources such as food and water. Ideally, the socialist system could cater to the needs of the poor because it provides equal access to all folks, regardless of income.

Although advantageous to the poor, the socialist system can mean heavy taxation on all citizens. There could be corruption as well as unequal access to resources which means that the people who tow the party line usually have more access to better goods. The socialist system means highly unusual labor quotas, food ration cards, long lines at the store, or below superior quality goods available.

Do atheists oppose Social Darwinism while accepting the Theory of Evolution?

The Christian Perspective

In Christianity, the pious are supposed to see meaning in the very way that the world is structured to justify how societies should be run. This makes logical sense if you assume the faith positions of Christianity, namely that: God created the Earth, everything happens according to His will, and man is supposed to emulate God's will. As a result, they have an idea of an equivalence between the situation that is and what should be striven for. The only deviation between this equivalence is where God in the Bible makes clear what should occur in the perfect city. Since Atheists do not have a god who does this, Christians assume this equivalence is the natural belief pattern of an Atheist. Therefore, Social Darwinism, which is the application of Evolutionary Principles of Natural Selection to the human experience would appear to be something that Atheists would naturally advocate.

The Atheist Explanation

According to the Christian, if "X" is a natural condition and Atheists only accept naturalism as an explanation for what is true, then by this virtue, Atheist ethics should match the natural condition. The equivalence is false. Of course, what this position fails to notice is that Atheists do not believe that moral or ethical concerns are derived from the natural conditions since one is a question of optimal societal values and another is a question of how the world works. Atheists can make moral and societal claims based on maximizing a different set of factors in a society than the methods nature employs to organize itself. For example, Atheists can base morality on minimizing pain and maximizing pleasure or increasing fairness and decreasing inequalities. Compassion is something that Atheists have just like everyone else.

It should also be noted that Social Darwinism is also clearly not related to Evolution by Natural Selection if we examine the two concepts. Social Darwinism asserts dominance within a species based on arbitrary tribal units (countries) as opposed to individual characteristics. Genetics are not being selected for or against. The competition between the races is artificially rigged against the less technologically advanced than based on environmental factors. The fight is over societal domination as opposed to adaptations to match the environment. Culture and religion are personal choices, not contingent on genetics or instincts. However, Social Darwinism came into existence in the late-1800s age of pseudo-science which sought to justify European right to conquer the world. If such conquest were seen to be as natural as evolution by natural selection, then there should be no reason to oppose it.

How does Social Darwinism reinforce Laissez-fair?

to break this down, the strongest will survive in free trade (this is the easy way to say it). if you have an unstable economy and no central govt. you will fail and will not be able to participate in free-trade (Laissez-fair)

How did some Americans use Social Darwinism to justify imperialism?

The Social Darwinism ideology was very popular in the late nineteenth century in justifying imperialism. By extending the idea of "the survival of the fittest" presented in Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species to the social interactions between humans, some Americans believed that they (the superior race) were well justified to exploit lesser races to advance and benefit themselves.

What was social Darwinism and how it affected people's views on imperialism?

Social Darwinism i like the evolution of humans. It states that the most fittest will continue to survive and reproduce, like survival of the fittest. I guess the effect of it on imperialism is that people want to be on top so they tried to conquer all they could to get all the valuables in those places they've conquered and so they can be the fittest.

What are the differences between personal troubles and public issues?

personal trouble simply can be the problems or conditions one or a group of people that do thing s in common found themselves in. for example the business of Mr. A is not longer moving forward as it used to be.

while the business of Mr. B is moving and developing into standard daily, now it's the problem of Mr. A, so Mr. A should be the one to look and find out what is happening to his business and it is going down day after day and so to crown it, it is the personal and private business of Mr. A and not Mr. B.

While public issue concerns everybody, both the state, the nation and everybody as a whole, and will be sorted out on their own way. for example if there is any natural disaster have to occur, it will affect everything breathing in that particular country.

Is society a web of social relationship-explain?

By definition, society is just a web of social relationships at several different levels. Society is formed by the relationships between individuals, communities, organizations, states, localities, and regions. The media is also an important aspect of society that enhances the relationships between these groups.

What are the causes and effect of social darwinism?

Social Darwinism is a theory that competition between all individuals, groups, nations or ideas drives social evolution in human societies. The term is an extension of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, where competition between individual organisms drives biological evolutionary change (speciation) through the survival of the fittest.

The term was popularized in 1944 by the American historian Richard Hofstadter, and has generally been used by critics rather than advocates of what the term is supposed to represent.[1]

While the term has been applied to the claim that Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection can be used to understand the social endurance of a nation or country, social Darwinism commonly refers to ideas that predate Darwin's publication of On the Origin of Species. Others whose ideas are given the label include the 18th century clergyman Thomas Malthus, and Darwin's cousin Francis Galton who founded eugenics towards the end of the 19th century.

Some claim that it supports racism on the lines set out by Arthur de Gobineau before Darwin published his theories, which directly contradict Darwin's own work. This classification of social Darwinism constitutes part of the reaction against the Nazi regime and the Holocaust.


Despite the fact that social Darwinism bears Darwin's name and his works were widely read by social Darwinists, the theory also draws on the work of many authors, including Herbert Spencer, Thomas Malthus, and Francis Galton, the founder of eugenics. Darwin himself gave serious consideration to Galton's work, but thought the ideas of "hereditary improvement" impractical. Aware of weaknesses in his own family, he was sure that families would naturally refuse such selection and wreck the scheme. He thought that even if compulsory registration was the only way to improve the human race, this illiberal idea would be unacceptable, and it would be better to publicize the "principle of inheritance" and let people decide for themselves.[2] In The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex of 1882 he described how medical advances meant that the weaker were able to survive and have families, and commented on the effects of this, while cautioning that hard reason should not override sympathy, and considering how other factors might reduce the effect -

Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. ... We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely that the weaker and inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage, though this is more to be hoped for than expected

How do sociologists measure social class?

Before researching into class structure sociologists have to operationalise the concept of class and since class is an abstract concept which cannot be easily observed sociologists have to pick an indicator of class most sociologists use an individuals occupational title to do this and the titles are then placed into class categories however there are a number of occupational classification schemes available for use and all have various advantages and disadvantages

How did social darwinism relate to imperialism?

Social Darwinism held that those made better or worse by industrialization were based on the natural predisposition of the people effected. For those who were made better off, the success of those people demonstrated that they had a well-evolved culture and this expansion would help remove or improve underperforming cultures, which were those "chosen" by the fact that they were performing poorly.

All in all, according to the Social Darwinist, Imperialism was the natural expansion and success of a well-evolved culture and this expansion would help remove or improve underperforming cultures.

How did social Darwinism affect European behavior?

It gave Europeans a reason to treat people in colonies badly


What are social facilitation and social impairment?

The tendency for the presence of other people to have a positive impact on the performance of an easy task.

Why did whites agree with social darwinism?

they agreed with it because they felt that their race was superior to others because whites dealt with more economic and social sucesses than other races.