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Terms / Themes

Social Darwinism

Oxford English Dictionary. Social Darwinism  the theory that societies, classes, and races are subject to and a product of Darwinian laws of natural selection. (Often used to justify political conservatism, imperialism, and racism.)

American Heritage Dictionary, 3d ed. A theory arising in the late nineteenth century that the laws of evolution, which Charles Darwin had observed in nature, also apply to society. Social Darwinists argued that social progress resulted from conflicts in which the fittest or best adapted individuals, or entire societies, would prevail. It gave rise to the slogan “survival of the fittest.”