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Social darwinism asserts that humans compete with one another and all of the plant and animal inhabitants of the biosphere for dominance, and that dominance is ceded to the species and the members of that species who are the fittest and most capable of competing.

Though based in part on British naturalist Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection forwarded 30 years earlier in his 1859 Origin of Species, it was British Victorian biologist and social philosopher Herbert Spencer who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest.” Spencer and the other leading 19th century promoters of social Darwinism, Walter Bagehot in Britain, and William Graham Sumner in the United States where the philosophy was more accepted, asserted that societies are organisms the evolution of which is dominated ...

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