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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",[1] 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 in dissent of the court's verdict 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."


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