Social Darwinism

Topics: Evolution, Natural selection, Charles Darwin Pages: 8 (3138 words) Published: June 21, 2013
Abstract

Social Darwinism is a political theory that emphasizes struggle and competition, and claims that human racial stock improves by allowing ruthless and unrestrained competition in the economic realm. Social Darwinism apples the concepts of biological evolution to social and moral development by stating that it is social evolution through the "survival of the fittest" in a struggle for an existence in which the strong prevail and the weak are defeated. Currently, we use the terms of Darwinism, natural selection, and evolution interchangeably and use them to describe a process which uses random variations, and mutations are preserved through a process of natural competition that favors beneficial changes. A History and Understanding of Social Darwinism

The term Darwinism may cause confusion in some people because they confuse Darwinism, the scientific theory, with Social Darwinism, the ethical theory. In truth, except for the name and a few basic principles, the two ideas do not have much in common and has very little to do with Charles Darwin, the English naturalist who famously suggested the scientific theory which states that a branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process he called natural selection. Social Darwinism is a term that started near the end of the nineteenth century and describes a set of social policies and theories designed to reduce the power of government with theories that attempt to explain the biological cause of human behavior. For the majority of the population this term has a negative connotation mainly due to the beliefs that the people who hold to these ideas have no compassion for the needy and reject the idea of any social responsibility. The term social Darwinism is often applied to any group of individuals who interprets the human society in terms of biology and natural law, with natural law being a philosophy that is based on what is considered to be the permanent characteristics of human nature. Natural law as it pertains to humans is the idea that mankind is like plants and animals, and that they have to fight in a battle for their very existence in which came to be known as natural selection (Nelson, 2006). Many people believe that the concept of social Darwinism gives a rational explanation behind racism, imperialism, and capitalism. Social Darwinists often state that the government should not interfere with the natural competition between humans by regulating the economy and by providing a multitude of social programs to combat poverty. Instead, the government should incorporate an economic system that is favorable to competition and supports self-interests concerning social and business interactions. A true social Darwinists will put forward a legitimate argument that justifies the imbalance of power between individuals, races, or other nations because they believe that some people are just more suited for survival then others (Roucloux, 2002). Social Darwinism is somewhat hard to define with their being many different definitions used to explain its main ideas. One of the most-used definitions of social Darwinism states that it is a political theory that emphasizes struggle and competition, and claims that human racial stock improves by allowing ruthless and unrestrained competition in the economic realm (Hodgson, 2005). Social Darwinism apples the concepts of biological evolution to social and moral development by stating that it is social evolution through the "survival of the fittest" in a struggle for an existence in which the strong prevail and the weak are defeated (Versen, 2009). Currently, we use the terms of Darwinism, natural selection, and evolution interchangeably and use them to describe a process which uses random variations, and mutations are preserved through a process of natural competition that favors beneficial changes (Hodgson, 2005). The individual most associated with the theories behind Social Darwinism is an Englishman by the name of Herbert...

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