Social Statics

"Social Statics, or The Conditions essential to Happiness specified, and the First of them Developed" is an 1851 book by the British economist Herbert Spencer. In it he uses the term "fitness" in applying his ideas of Lamarckian evolution to society, saying for example that "It is clear that any being whose constitution is to be moulded into fitness for new conditions of existence must be placed under those conditions. Or, putting the proposition specifically — it is clear that man can become adapted to the social state, only by being retained in the social state. This granted, it follows that as man has been, and is still, deficient in those feelings which, by dictating just conduct, prevent the perpetual antagonism of individuals and their consequent disunion, some artificial agency is required by which their union may be maintained. Only by the process of adaptation itself can be produced that character which makes social equilibrium spontaneous."

Despite it commonly being attributed to this book, it was not until his "Principles of Biology" of 1864 that Spencer coined the phrase "survival of the fittest" that he would later apply to economics as well as biology. This was a key tenet of so-called Social Darwinism.

The book was published by John Chapman of London.

Judicial Commentary

In "Lochner v. New York," Justice Holmes, arguing that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution did not require state legislation to comply with a particular economic theory, famously wrote: "The Fourteenth Amendment does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer's Social Statics." As it happened, Holmes was an admirer of the book and had a copy in his library.

External links

* [http://oll.libertyfund.org/Texts/LFBooks/Spencer0236/SocialStatics/0331_Bk.html online copy]


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Social statics — Statics Stat ics ( [i^]ks), n. [Cf. F. statique, Gr. statikh the art of weighing, fr. statiko s. See {Static}.] That branch of mechanics which treats of the equilibrium of forces, or relates to bodies as held at rest by the forces acting on them; …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • social statics — noun plural but usually singular in construction : a branch of social physics that deals with the fundamental laws of the social order and the equilibrium of forces in a stable society * * * Sociol. the study of social systems as they exist at a… …   Useful english dictionary

  • social statics — Sociol. the study of social systems as they exist at a given time. Cf. social dynamics. [1850 55] * * * …   Universalium

  • social dynamics and social statics — See Comte, Auguste …   Dictionary of sociology

  • social statics and social dynamics — See Comte, Auguste …   Dictionary of sociology

  • Statics — Stat ics ( [i^]ks), n. [Cf. F. statique, Gr. statikh the art of weighing, fr. statiko s. See {Static}.] That branch of mechanics which treats of the equilibrium of forces, or relates to bodies as held at rest by the forces acting on them;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • social dynamics — noun plural but often singular in construction : a branch of social physics that deals with the laws, forces, and phenomena of change in society * * * Sociol. the study of social processes, esp. social change. Cf. social statics. [1835 45] …   Useful english dictionary

  • social physics — noun plural but usually singular in construction 1. : the science of social phenomena subject to invariable natural laws compare social dynamics, social statics 2. : the quantitative study of human society : social statistics …   Useful english dictionary

  • social dynamics — Sociol. the study of social processes, esp. social change. Cf. social statics. [1835 45] * * * …   Universalium

  • social science — social scientist. 1. the study of society and social behavior. 2. a science or field of study, as history, economics, etc., dealing with an aspect of society or forms of social activity. [1775 85] * * * Any discipline or branch of science that… …   Universalium


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