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Herbert Spencer's Progress

Many historians have viewed Social Darwinism as the philosophical support for the business practices of industrialists such as Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Vanderbilt. Read an excerpt from Herbert Spencer's Progress: Its Law and Cause. Spencer is viewed as the leading advocate of Social Darwinism in the United States.

Herbert Spencer's ProgressSpencer considers competition and the struggle for individualism as a positive effect, serving an evolutionary purpose that will either cast off those who refuse to participate or else they will be assimilated and become better functioning members of the society.  This they must do, for Spencer insists that governmental welfare programs are ineffective in the drive toward societal evolution; even more so, they create a cycle of dependency.  Spencer’s view on labor is based on the idea of competition, but unfortunately he ignores the fact about competition that Marx realizes: a capitalist economy is inherently anti-competitive at its highest levels.  While competition is allowed and even encouraged among the working class, those at the top battle fiercely for a monopolistic position.   Spencer has no answer to the question of how those among the lower classes might engage in a fair competition to allow their evolution upward at a faster pace than those already above; in fact, his theory contains within it strains of thought that suggests the members of the lower classes are there simply because of genetic inferiority.

Questions to be answered in Herbert Spencer's Progress Research Paper:

  1. How does he define progress? The site notes that Spencer specifically discusses race and class in this excerpt.
  2. What relationship do they have to his idea of progress? Then read Carnegie's Gospel of Wealth.
  3. How do his views compare to those of Spencer?
  4. How does he propose to solve the problem of the administration of wealth?
  5. Please write an essay in which you explore the questions above.

How to start Your Research on Herbert Spencer

Read Spencer's Progress: Its Law and Cause.

  • Spencer is viewed as the leading advocate of Social Darwinism in the United States.
    How does he define progress?
  • The site notes that Spencer specifically discusses race and class in this excerpt.
    What relationship do they have to his idea of progress?

Read Carnegie's Gospel of Wealth.

  • How does Carnegie's views compare to those of Spencer?
  • How does he propose to solve the problem of the administration of wealth?

 

Paper Criteria for Herbert Spencer's Progress Research Paper

  1. The paper must be clear, engaging, original, and focused; ideas and content are richly developed with details and examples.
  2. Organization and form enhance the central idea and theme; ideas are presented coherently to move the reader through the text.
  3. The voice of the writer is compelling and conveys the writer’s meaning through effective sentence structure and precise word choices.
  4. The writer successfully moves the paper through academic constructs and experiential documentation to critical analysis.
  5. The paper demonstrates a clear balance of these three components.
  6. The paper is developed through coherently linked paragraphs, each devoted to an aspect of the topic.
  7. The vocabulary and diction represent college-level usage.
  8. The grammar, spelling, and APA style in this paper must be correct. This means students must use complete sentences and make minimal grammar mistakes.
General Writing Requirements for Herbert Spencer's Progress Research Paper:
  1. Must include an introductory paragraph with a succinct thesis statement.
  2. Must address the topic of the paper with critical thought in structured paragraphs.
  3. Must conclude with a restatement of the thesis and a conclusion paragraph.
    Style:
  4. Must be double-spaced pages and formatted according to APA style
  5. Must include a title page

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