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Marquis Scholar Mike Werner ’07(Neenah, Wis.), a double major in biology and geology, and Trustee Scholar Carina Fritsche ’07 (Columbia, Mo.), a double major in chemical engineering and international studies, will serve geometric-shaped food 6 p.m. Sunday and lead a discussion of Social Darwinism 6:30 p.m. at McKelvy House, 200 High Street. The campus community is invited to attend the free weekly meal and discussion.

“We’ve all heard the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ generally in the context of Darwin’s theory of evolution via natural selection,” says Fritsche. “But actually, the 19th-century English philosopher Herbert Spencer coined the term after reading the works of Charles Dawin in an attempt to frame economic competition within a biological construct. Social theorists have since used the notion to legitimize the disparity of wealth and resources among humans.”

The scholars will base the discussion on whether Social Darwinism is to blame for society’s neglect of issues like poverty, hunger, and homelessness. Stating that contemporary critics argue the theory allows political leaders to absolve themselves of their socio-economic responsibilities, Werner and Fritsche offer the following questions:

  • Is there any validity to Social Darwinism in the context of contemporary American society?
  • Is there a moral connection between your economic status and your obligation to society? For example, do poor people deserve to be poor? Do rich people deserve to be rich? Do rich people have any obligation to the poor?
  • What are the implications of Social Darwinism on healthcare or welfare?
  • If Social Darwinism is a true extension of evolution, will it inevitably create a better adapted society?
  • Are we impeding the natural procession of mankind by not fully embracing Darwinistic social theory?
  • Are humans the perfect species? Can there be a perfect human race?
  • True or False? Darwin’s “honkin’” sideburns are an advantageous trait.

Links to more information about the McKelvy House Scholars program, as well as downtown Easton businesses, are available on the group’s blog web site.

Since 1962, the McKelvy House Scholars program has brought together Lafayette students with a wide range of majors and interests to reside in a historic off-campus house and share in intellectual and social activities. Weekly Sunday and occasional Wednesday dinner discussions that engage the students in debate and exchange of ideas are the hallmark of the program. Most members also contribute to the annual McKelvy Papers, written on a topic of each person’s choice. McKelvy Scholars participate in activities together such as field trips to plays, concerts, and exhibits, and sponsor events for the campus as well.

Previous discussions:

Feb.12 – Stereotypes
Feb. 5 – Reading as a Virtue
Jan. 29 — Sexuality
Nov. 20 — Value of Performing Arts
Nov. 13 – Blogging
Nov. 9 – Neoconservatism
Oct. 30 – Christian Right
Oct. 26 – Social Groups
Oct. 23 – The Shape of Things
Oct. 19 – Women in Creating and Sustaining Peace
Oct. 16 – “Slow Food” Movement
Oct. 12 – Hugo Chavez
Oct. 9 – Molecular Nanotechnology
Oct. 5 – Folk Music as Vehicle for Social Change
Sept. 25 – Freedom and Other Remembrance Issues
Sept. 20 – The Powerful Thrust of Language on Civic Arousal
Sept. 14 – Apathy
Sept. 11 – Why Do We Care about One Another?

Categorized in: Academic News