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Doctrines Of Social Evolution

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Chapter Summary

Darwin was attempting to explain the struggle for existence in nature whereas Malthus was mainly concerned with depicting humankind's struggle against the existing socio-economic system as though it was a struggle against a naturally determined means of subsistence. The idea of population pressure had enabled the ruling classes to dampen any optimism about further human development. With the development of industrial capitalism, evolutionary doctrines offered the means of explaining all of the destructive competition involved in terms of natural processes. The Darwinian description of the evolutionary process was quickly employed as a means of bolstering the case for laissez-faire capitalism. Sumner thought in terms of social and moral evolution rather than physical. He explained that the "social equivalent of physical inheritance is the instruction of the children in the necessary economic virtues".

Keywords: Darwin; evolutionary doctrines; laissez-faire capitalism; Malthus

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