Charles Darwin social evolution | Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution by natural selection

Charles Darwin social evolution

Social Darwinism

One of the most controversial theories in the field of sociology is social Darwinism. The main focus of this theory is the belief that competition between individuals and groups drives the social evolution of societies.

The theory of evolution as developed by Charles Darwin was the theory that through competition and survival of the fittest individual organisms change and evolve to ensure their survival. The idea of social Darwinism uses Darwin’s theory to understand the development of particular societies or nations. Upon closer examination, these theories often predate the publication of Darwin’s work “On the Origin of Species” in 1859.

The term itself was coined in 1944 by the American historian Richard Hofstadter. The theories themselves were based in part on the works of the 19th century philosopher Herbert Spencer, the 18th century clergyman Thomas Malthus, and Francis Galton, Darwin’s cousin who founded eugenics at the end of the 19th century.

In the time of Thomas Malthus (1798), the world population had grown rapidly due to better medical care. He felt the end result of this continued growth would be a lack of an adequate food supply and lead to the starvation of the weakest. He was also one of the first philosophers to feel that charity could do much to alleviate social problems.

In 1857, Herbert Spencer felt that the individual being evolves (not the whole group) and as a result the society evolves. He felt that the evolution of a society is deterministic (the only result of this singular evolution) and fatalistic (that human actions have no affect on it). Spencer felt that this theory was also universalistic, meaning that the social evolution followed a single path and that it did not skip or change any of its stages. The end result of this evolution would be a perfect society. This society was described as being teleological. He felt that a natural selection of the fittest took place in the form of disease, with only the strongest surviving.

Francis Galton presented the theory of eugenics in 1869. Eugenics is a social philosophy that the human race could become improved by various interventions, such as selective breeding. ”Less fit” members of society should be discouraged from over-breeding while the”more fit” sector should be encouraged to reproduce. Desirable traits would become more prevalent while less desirable ones could be eliminated. As to who would have the power to decide which traits were desirable was not specified.

Charles Darwin himself did not support his cousin’s ideas. He pointed out that human beings would never agree to such a blatant violation of their free will to choose their own mates. Neither he nor his cousin approved of government coercion in the selective breeding process.

Modern methods of eugenics include prenatal testing and screening, genetic counseling, birth control, in vitro fertilization, and genetic engineering. As with the earlier methods, these modern techniques have also raised ethical and moral questions as to how far these methods should be utilized.

OK, but they're links, the evidence is too

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For historical interest, see The Evidence Of The Descent Of Man From Some Lower Form
by Charles Darwin; A chapter from 'The Descent of Man' (1875):
On to modern examples (those that aren't primary literature sources provide the relevant citations):

Charles Darwin and the secrets of the Galapagos Islands  — ABC Online
The Galapagos Islands are famous for their abundance of wildlife, which inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Robyn Williams retraces Darwin's footsteps and discovers that not all that much has changed off the coast of Ecuador.

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