LAY PERSON: … [long silence]… Uh…‘Social Darwinism’?… Really?

Eric Michael Johnson received his masters degree in evolutionary anthropology and he pursued his dissertation on bonobo () behavioral ecology before switching fields to work on the history of evolutionary biology in late-19th century England, Europe and Russia. In addition to publishing original research in such places as the and , he has written on evolutionary topics for general audiences at , , , , and many others. He is a longtime advocate of science communication online and has spoken at academic as well as social media conferences on how important it is for scientists to reach out to the public by engaging readers with a compelling narrative. He can be found on Twitter at @ericmjohnson and his blog, The Primate Diaries, is currently hosted by . He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Social Darwinism | Define Social Darwinism at …

Toward a New Social Darwinism. David Sloan Wilson and Eric Michael Johnson

Social Darwinism in the Gilded Age (article) | Khan Academy

This view has been extensively challenged by philosophers of biologyon both methodological and conceptual grounds, though there are, amongphilosophers, enthusiastic supporters (cf. Dennett 1995). In all thegive and take, it is seldom noticed that defenders of this view claimto be carrying the Darwinian flag (Gayon 1998 and Gould 2003 areexceptions). Yet it is certainly not a position that Darwinwould recognize--and not merely because he lacked a coherent theory ofthe units of inheritance. It is not a Darwinian view because forDarwin it was differences in the abilities of organisms at variousstages of development to respond to the challenges of life that hadcausal primacy in the explanation of evolutionary change. Amongevolutionary biologists from the ‘neo-Darwinian synthesis’on, it is those who stress the role of organisms in populationsinteracting differentially to ever-variable ecological conditions incausing changes in the gene pools of those populations who are thecard-carrying Darwinians.

Social Darwinism: The Theory of Evolution Applied to …

If we suppose that for Darwin natural selection was almost exclusivelythought of as an interaction between individual organisms and theirorganic and inorganic environments, then we can see two challenges toDarwinism today with respect to levels of selection. Thereare those, such as G. C. Williams and Richard Dawkins, who argue thatselection is always and only of genes. Here is a clear statement:

Social Darwinism « The Bible and Society

Natural selection, if it is to resemble the Darwinian concept thatbears that name, must be reserved for reference to an interactionbetween a variable, heritable feature of an organic system and theenvironment of that system. That interaction may or may notchange the proportions of those features across generations, and thoseproportions may change for reasons other than those interactions. Buta plausible natural selection hypothesis must posit some suchinteraction. On this issue Iwill give the last word to Stephen Jay Gould:

Budgeting Social Darwinism | HuffPost

There is, however, a way of formulating the theory in its modern guisewhich maintains an essentially Darwinian character. Since there are anumber of confirmed ways in which natural populations can evolve inthe absence of natural selection, and since balancing selection,i.e. countervailing selection forces, may prevent a population fromevolving in its presence, it is clear that establishing, by measuringdifferent reproductive rates among its members, that the geneticmake-up of a population has changed does not establish that naturalselection was the source of that change; nor does the fact that nochange has been measured establish that natural selection is notoperative. Population genetics and its associated models should betreated as the ‘kinematics’, not the‘dynamics’ of evolutionary processes. That is, it is a wayof establishing that a population either is or is not in equilibrium,and it provides sophisticated tools for measuring rates of change in apopulation across generations. Moreover, like the kinematics of anyphysical theory, if it establishes cross-generational change, it alsotells us that there are causes to be found—the detailed contoursof those measures may even provide suggestions as to where to look forthose causes. What it cannot do on its own is provideknowledge of the forces at work. To use language introduced byElliott Sober, fitness, unlike natural selection, is causallyinert. (For further information, see the entry on: .)

Why Social Darwinism is hurting our society - The Blog …

Darwin himself consistently refers to natural selection as a powerof preserving advantageous, and eliminating harmful,variations. As noted in the last section, whether a particularvariation is advantageous or harmful is, in once sense of that term, amatter of chance; and whether an advantageous variation is actuallypreserved by selection is, in another sense of the term, also a matterof chance. For Darwinism, selection is the force or power that biasessurvival and reproduction in favor of advantageous variations, or tolook ahead to the next section, of adaptations. It is this thatdistinguishes selection from drift.