Although Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection stunned the halls of biology, anthropology, and religion, its most profound repercussion in America was "Social Darwinism". Beginning in the 1880s, William Graham Summer and his successors pushed "survival of the fittest" beyond biology to justify power, wealth, and even racial and gender superiority. Theodore Roosevelt and Stephen B. Luce championed military expansionism on Darwinian grounds, and eugenicist Charles B. Davenport urged selective breeding to propogate the strong and eradicate the physically and mentally infirm. Despite its widespread popularity, after the turn of the century Social Darwinism was challenged by a growing rank of philosophers, sociologists, and economists who argued that the movement thrived on bigotry and bad science. By the 1920s the countermovement led by Lester F. Ward, John Dewey, Charles H. Cooley, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Thorstein Veblen had proven itself the "fitter" of the two. This three-volume set features more than sixty essays from 1880 to 1920, most of which have never been anthologized and are now scarce.
Volume 1: "Social Darwinism and its critics" offers William Graham Summer's defense of Social Darwinism and its criticism from sociologists and philosophers such as Lester F. Ward, James Mark Baldwin, Charles H. Cooley, Jacob Gould Schurman, John Dewey, and Arthur M. Lewis. Volume 2: "Race, Gender, and Supremacy" rekindles the volatile clash over issues of race, gender, eugenics, and American supremacy, from authors including Nathanial S. Shaler, Lydia Kingsmill Commander, Charles B. Davenport, Charles A. Ellwood, Theodore Roosevelt, Franz Boas, Edward A. Ross, and Charles H. Cooley. Volume 3: "Evolution, Law, and Economics" explores the impact of evolution on theories of natural law and economics, including pieces from William Graham Sumner, Thomas Nixon Carver, Andrew Carnegie, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis D. Brandeis, Simon Nelson Patten, and Thorstein Veblen.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC