Spencer, Herbert (1820–1903)

Although Herbert Spencer has been rightly regarded as the most influential libertarian theoretician of the 19th century, he was much more than that. He also was a founding father of modern sociology, a pioneer in the theory of evolution— his theories were developed prior to those of Charles Darwin—an important figure in progressive education— his name still adorns the education building at Stanford University—and a philosopher of distinction whose work in ethics and epistemology gained the respect of J. S. Mill and other notable contemporaries. He was, moreover, an early proponent of the rights of children, of equal rights for women, and of other civil liberties that have since gained widespread acceptance in Western democracies.

Spencer lived during a period that coincided with the rise and ...

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