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Social Darwinism

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/8/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 512 times Debate No: 51950
Debate Rounds (5)
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I am starting this debate to see a plethora of opinions on the matter. My opinion is that Social Darwinism is currently the philosophy of the U.S. but it is not a fact of life and it does not necessarily have to be. What I am primarily looking at/ talking about is the desire of people to compete against one another and work for their own personal goal, as opposed to working for a common goal or accomplishment. (I do not want this to turn into capitalism vs socialism PLEASE KEEP THIS IN MIND) From a biological standpoint it is typically believed that "survival of the fittest" is the way it is, but I don't believe this to be true. Robert Sapolsky has done extensive research on a group of baboons, and he found that a group of these baboons that survived was the group that worked together and promoted group contribution, as opposed to the aggression promoted in most other groups. This is what I will base the discussion on. Please no personal attacks, and I think if this went as more of a discussion of opposing sides and not a "debate" per say, we could get some really good talk going. Thanks!


Hello, and thank you for the challenge. this should prove to be an interesting discussion. I would like to begin my side of the debate by also quoting this popular phrase "Survival of the fittest..." What does that really mean? When you take a second to think about it deeply, you understand that it makes sense. For instance, if an animal is born with a birth defect, lets say it was born without the ability to walk, it would be impossible for it to last long. A predator would find it easy prey.

That, my friends, is the Social Darwinism Theory. The idea that even we as humans, in all our supremacy in the animal kingdom, and all our development as a species, still has the best of the best, and the worst of the worst die off. If you, for instance, were unhealthily weak, because of overindulgence in food, it would immediately eliminate a surprising number of job opportunities. Thus, as you become weaker, you make less money. Its all connected.

Another scenario, if a person is unable to complete high school, their job opportunities are also slashed. So while Social Darwinism may not apply to America in the "survival" aspect, it does in power, money, and health, and I believe this is necessary in our culture. Nobody wants to do something without incentives. If it were not for the fact that I need a degree in order to get a job with nice pay and support my future family, I would drop out of high school right now, but I don't, because I need that job. Social Darwinism should be implied in American culture, as it is a consequence for falling behind. This combined with the incentive of money and power with acceleration, would bring the American society back to its former glory. Thanks again for an interesting debate. Good luck
Debate Round No. 1


After reading the comment, I realize the user is correct. I apologize, this is my first time doing anything on this site, I kind of jumped onto a moving train in a way. What I guess my question is truly, somewhere mixed into my previous post, is this: If these baboons were able to progress in what was their society, why do we humans see the need to benefit ourselves toward our own goals, instead of progress all? Sorry for the lack of clarity.

Also, (to understand my point of view) I feel as though there could possibly a different way of looking at success in a particular nation, wherever on this earth. The economy, I feel, is not necessarily the best way to rank a nation or state or whatever it may be. Perhaps instead success should be measured by success in terms of food distribution, or technological innovation. For that last example I feel a sense of competition provided by the idea of Social Darwinism is good, but I believe the incentives you just spoke of could be found elsewhere, not from the defeating of others through an external reward, but maybe from an internal reward of just being helpful to others.

That being said, this internal reward system is where I feel people for the most part lack similar ideas of what is rewarding. Human nature tends to show, from what I have learned/observed, that humans can be selfish in their lives. But what I personally believe is that because humans have a large pre frontal cortex for logical reasoning and future planning, substantially larger than other mammals and creatures, there is no reason why we could not use this to overcome the biological drive to be selfish quite frankly.

Despite kind of going off on a tangent there, I believe the idea still fits within the overall discussion, your thoughts?


You make an excellent point when you say "But what I personally believe is that because humans have a large pre frontal cortex for logical reasoning and future planning, substantially larger than other mammals and creatures, there is no reason why we could not use this to overcome the biological drive to be selfish quite frankly." However, I would like to point out that that human capability for planning their future, and logical reasoning, have both directly evolved based on a humans needs to remain alive throughout history. All of a humans abilities are based on what their ancestors faced before the modern era. For example, if your family has a reputation for being good athletes, that probably means your ancestors were often the prey, and needed to be able to fight or run. Another scenario, if your family has always been good at finding what is needed in grocery stores, or picking out clothing, then your ancestors probably didn't face many predators, but were fantastic gatherers.

Personally, I think that Social Darwinist thinking is closely tied with the "fight or flight" response. When your ancestors village was attacked, they either ran or fought back. Its the logical choice. But, if your neighboring village was attacked, would they fight for them? No, they would likely run. That's because they care most about their own survival, and that's where the Social Darwinism theory kicks in.
Debate Round No. 2


cartersolomon forfeited this round.


All points forwarded
Debate Round No. 3


I agree with your point about how humans have planned based on their need to survive, actually completely. However, my view is that that was in facing variables that we humans were unable to control. For example, say water distribution (primarily because I live in California with a drought occurring) in the past it would make sense to have held the water for a particular tribe I suppose, if say a stream was home to one tribe and another would want to take it over because they had no water (or something along those lines). Now however, we have the technology to share the water from very large distances.

In that poor example, my point is simply this: people across the country and world now have very high quality technology, we could make everyone's life easier by sharing this; also, the things causing most of our issues are ideas or things that we humans created. The economy, we pump money with no actual value, into the market. This money has value because we say it has value, and if we can give something as worthless as green paper value, why can we not do these other things a little more collectively.

We have created a system in which we have placed value on certain things. Some people are able to get their basic needs (ie. food, water, shelter, etc) and then some. We the people need to take it upon ourselves to help these people to acquire their basic needs as well. The idea of Social Darwinism can even still occur, with the objects society has deemed valuable.


evandudeguy forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


Comment any other opinions!


evandudeguy forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by MrDelaney 2 years ago
I think your premise might be malformed, and stem from a misrepresentation of what is meant by 'survival of the fittest.' Any trait or quality which enhances the opportunity and likelihood of reproduction lends to a population's 'fitness.' Fitness is not defined by strength or self serving. Fitness is defined by the ability to survive and reproduce in a given environment.

In your example of the baboons, cooperation would be a trait which is clearly advantageous. The selection of cooperative traits in social species doesn't negate the truth of 'survival of the fittest.' It simply means that in that specific example an individual's ability to cooperate is part of their 'fitness' in the given environment. We need to remember that what defines 'fitness' will change from population to population according to environmental pressures.

You have an interesting topic in here somewhere, but I feel it needs to be unpacked a bit. If you can boil your point down to one concise resolution, with clear parameters and definitions, I would likely consider taking this debate on.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by LostintheEcho1498 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I think that the pro used "survival of the fittest" to its fullest extent of meaning. That no matter what we do, everything is just to get ahead. I also found it mildly confusing of the change in topic part way through so it made it harder to fairly judge this but based on the circumstances I think that he responded well to both prompts when saying, as I said before, for the first prompt that everything you do is to get ahead and the second prompt that everything we do is to help survival. i do believe Con made a convincing and interesting debate but that Pro debunked it well.