Originally posted by PBE6
Social Darwinists took this idea and applied it to social programs like welfare, hopsitalization of the insane, etc... and concluded that by helping the "weak" and "undesirable" persist (seemingly in defiance of Natural Law), humanity was setting itself down a path of "regression" as the "strong" elements would no longer weed out the "weak". Eugenics was one o ...[text shortened]... the individual rights - and replaced it with a gruesomely twisted socialist ideal.
You make a good point there PBE6. Following the this progression of thought with social Darwinism does lead to a society which does not act in a manner we find morally acceptable, one which does not respect the people within it as having value outside what they can do for society as a whole, and the society which pursues this as a goal will soon become a horrid thing.
One of the problems, and the one I had in mind with my caveat, was as follows: That the thing which an individual, group, or society might decide to use as their competitive goal might lead to adopting ideas and practices which are less beneficial on the whole (and which may neglect very important areas of life entirely), but which seem to improve the specific area in mind.
As an example, take the people who do things in the name of beauty which may have significant negative side effects. They are competing to become more beautiful, and this drives them to evolve new practices, even if these are to their detriment. (How many kids started smoking to become more cool?)
However, I do think that, for better or worse, social Darwinism as a sort of process does occur within our societies at all levels, as a lot of the changes people make within their lives are either directly or indirectly related to a desire to "keep up with the Joneses" if you will, and for some to outdo them in some area. It does not mean that I think this is always good, nor that I think it holds any moral greatness, because I would disagree with both..