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Social Darwinism

Social Darwinism

In this BBC Radio4 programme Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Social Darwinism.  After the publication of Charles Darwin's masterpiece On the Origin of Species in 1859, some thinkers argued that Darwin's ideas about evolution could also be applied to human society.  One thinker particularly associated with this movement was Darwin's near-contemporary Herbert Spencer, who coined the phrase 'survival of the fittest'.  He argued that competition among humans was beneficial, because it ensured that only the healthiest and most intelligent individuals would succeed.  Social Darwinism remained influential for several generations, although its association with eugenics and later adoption as an ideological position by Fascist regimes ensured its eventual downfall from intellectual respectability.

listen to this forty-three minute programme


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