Social Darwinism

Social Darwinism is an ideology of society that seeks to apply biological concepts of Darwinism or of evolutionary theory to sociology and politics, often with the assumption that conflict between groups in society leads to social progress as superior groups outcompete inferior ones.

The name social Darwinism is a modern name given to the various theories of society that emerged in England and the United States in the 1870s, which, it is alleged, sought to apply biological concepts to sociology and politics. The term social Darwinism gained widespread currency when used in 1944 to oppose these earlier concepts. Today, because of the negative connotations of the theory of social Darwinism, especially after the atrocities of the Second World War (including the Holocaust), few people would describe themselves as Social Darwinists and the term is generally seen as pejorative.

Social Darwinism is generally understood to use the concepts of struggle for existence and survival of the fittest to justify social policies which make no distinction between those able to support themselves and those unable to support themselves. Many such views stress competition between individuals in laissez-faire capitalism; but the ideology has also motivated ideas of eugenics, scientific racism, imperialism, fascism, Nazism and struggle between national or racial groups.

Opponents of evolution theory have often maintained that social Darwinism is a logical entailment of a belief in evolutionary theory, while biologists and historians maintain that it is rather a perversion of Charles Darwin's ideas. While most scholars recognize historical links between Darwin's theory and forms of social Darwinism, they also maintain that social Darwinism is not a necessary consequence of the principles of biological evolution and that using biological evolution as a justification for policies of inequality amounts to committing the naturalistic fallacy.

Read more about Social Darwinism:  Origin of The Term, Theories and Origins, Social Darwinists, Darwinism and Hypotheses of Social Change, United States, Japan, China, Nazi Germany

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