Effects of Social Darwinism

Topics: Charles Darwin, Evolution, Natural selection Pages: 9 (2912 words) Published: September 24, 2008
The Effects of Social Darwinism on the social trends of the 19th century. “As a world view, Darwinism cannot of course be refuted, since Faith is, always has been, and always will be, stronger than facts. “ - Francis P. Yockey

Social Darwinism is a theory that competition among all individuals, groups, nations or ideas drives social evolution in human societies. The term draws upon Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, where competition between individual organisms drives biological evolutionary change 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. This new social Darwinism approach to the social trends of the united states created many controversial issues arise and conflict with the existence of already stabilized beliefs. It slowly influenced all aspects of life, and influenced the major social trends of the late 19th century more and more. This caused a great number of changes in the short time period in this century, and forever changed the past present and future of the American social trends. The Darwinism Theory not only affected the science world greatly, but it’s modification into Social Darwinism also greatly changed the U.S. social trends of the 19th century in many significant views.

Chapter 1: The Social Darwinism Theory
Social Darwinism is a belief, popular in the late Victorian era in England, America, and elsewhere, which states that the strongest or fittest should survive and flourish in society, while the weak and unfit should be allowed to die. The theory was chiefly expounded by Herbert Spencer , whose ethical philosophies always held an elitist view and received a boost from the application of Darwinian ideas such as adaptation and natural selection.

Many negative reactions to Darwinism come from the confusion of Darwinism as a scientific theory with Social Darwinism as an ethical theory. In reality, the two have very little in common, aside from their name and a few basic concepts, which Social Darwinists misapplied. Unfortunately, much of today's opposition to the application of Darwinian thinking to human behavior comes from a fear of Social Darwinism and its implications for many of today's moral codes. However, Social Darwinism in its basic forms are based on a logical fallacy , and do not really follow from Darwinian thinking in any way.

It can be more clearly defined through the cliché term of “survival of the fittest” , where the idea that humans, like animals and plants, compete in a struggle for existence in a natural selection sort of way. Social Darwinists often argue that governments should not interfere with this natural happening of society by attempting to regulate the economy or cure social ills such as poverty, instead they often advocate a laissez-faire political and economic system that favors competition and self interest in social and business affairs. Many of these social Darwinists also propose arguments that justify imbalances of power between individuals, races, and nations, because they consider some people more fit to survive than others within the society. They believe that all people were made to fit their role in society, and that this cannot be really bothered with by outside sources.

The term social Darwinist is applied loosely to anyone who interprets human society primarily in terms of biology, struggle, competition, or natural law , a philosophy based on what are considered the permanent characteristics of human nature. Social Darwinism characterizes a variety of past and present social policies and theories, from attempts to reduce the power of government to theories exploring the biological causes of human behavior. Many people believe that the concept of social Darwinism explains the philosophical rationalization behind racism, imperialism,...
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