Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Social Darwinism Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1750 words

Social Darwinism - Essay Example â€Å"Social Darwinism† is a term used to refer to the application of ideas and concepts applied to the social world which are allegedly derived from Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution (Leonard, 2009). There is much controversy surrounding Social Darwinism, its historical significance, its usage and applicability and most importantly its association with some of the known social scientist in history such as Darwin and Spencer. The debate around the definition of the term has in most cases revolved around whether or not Social Darwinism came out of the works of Darwin and other theorists that wrote about the role of biology to explain the social hierarchies present during that era, as Europe, America and other continents witnessed the aftermath of industrialization. There are basically two types of approaches to the definition of the term that have been put forward to explain the different approaches theorists have taken in order to explain the term (Crook, 1996). The â€Å"generalist† approach basically refers to Social Darwinism as the analysis of social inequality by the help of evolutionary and developmental ideas using Darwinian terminologies such as â€Å"survival of the fittest† but not explicitly relying on the original works of Darwin (Weiler). The second type known as the â€Å"restrictionist† approach in contrast, argues that a mere use of phrases that represent the work of a theorist such as â€Å"survival of fittest† does not define the theorist as a Social Darwinist (Weiler). According to the broad definition, the theory came to denote racism, imperialism and capitalism during what came to be known as the Gilded Age where, whilst the poor suffered the consequences of Industrialization in the American society, those that owned the factories and benefited from the wealth they were acquiring, although fewer in number, used Social Darwinism to justify why such notions as â€Å"survival of the fittest† put forward by Darwin and Spencer made it logical for only those that were biologically gifted or a so called â€Å"superior race† to be market leaders and worthy of acquiring the most wealth and superior positions in politics (Hodgson 2004). There is also debate on when the term was first used and while the works of theorists like Hofstadter gave a strict definition of who the Social Darwinist are, others such as Hodgson have argued that these theorists present as facts what are basically just labels (Hodgson 2004). The history of the term is a controversial issue. While some say that the term was first used in the late 1800s and was associated with known social theorists like Spencer and Sumner (Wieler), for example Spencer’s Synthetic Philosophy is one of the first pieces of literature where the term can be traced (Hodgson 2004), others argue that Spencer never used the term Social Darwinism and that he is deemed one of the founders of the theory only based on assoc iations made between the theory and Spencer’s work (Hodgson, 2004). This paper will aim to present a critique of the theory â€Å"Social Darwinism† as presented in the book â€Å"Social Darwinism in American Thought† by Hofstadter that proved to be a very influential piece on the theory. In order to do so I will look at the work of revisionists such as Hodgson and Leonard who

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