Malthus, Darwin, and Social Darwinism


Darwin's theory of natural selection was inspired in part by T. R. Malthus's principle of population expansion. This was linked to the ideology of freeā€enterprise individualism, leading to claims that Darwin's theory reflected a similar ideology. Darwinism was certainly used to justify competitive social policies, but the relationship between science and ideology requires careful analysis.

Keywords: darwinism; ideology; struggle for existence; survival of the fittest


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Further Reading

Bowler PJ (1993) Biology and Social Thought, 1850–1914. Berkeley, CA: Office of the History of Science and Technology, University of California.

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Desmond A and Moore JR (1991) Darwin. London, UK: Michael Joseph.

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Peel JDY (1971) Herbert Spencer: The Evolution of a Sociologist. London, UK: Heinemann.

Rogers JA (1972) Darwinism and social Darwinism. Journal of the History of Ideas 33: 265–280.

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Bowler, Peter J(Sep 2006) Malthus, Darwin, and Social Darwinism. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005882]