The term social Darwinist, a term coined in the 1950s to describe the theory that social evolution has led humans to be social creatures, is no longer used.
It was coined to describe those who argued that humans evolved to be socially different from other animals, including primates, which also include humans.
But the new term has gained a wider recognition as a scientific term, and its use is now a part of academic debate.
The term refers to two aspects of evolutionary psychology, social dominance theory and cognitive dissonance theory.
The first theory posits that social hierarchies evolved to protect the dominance of humans over other animals.
In an article published in Science in April 2017, Dr Peter Gray, a professor of behavioural and brain sciences at Melbourne University, argued that the “social Darwinist” concept had evolved to explain why the dominant humans of the past were able to dominate the rest of the primates.
Dr Gray said the theory of social dominance was a form of social psychology that had developed during the 20th century, when scientists began to study human behaviour.
“People have argued that it explains why the human species has always been more dominant than other animals,” he said.
“It explains why there are more human brains in the human population, more human intelligence, more humans with the ability to do things, so we have this social Darwinistic idea that we evolved from other primates.”
Dr Gray added that social dominance theories also had a broader social influence on other animals as a result of their “social-enhancing” influence on human society.
He said the social dominance of primates such as gorillas and chimpanzees helped shape human social systems in ways that were difficult for other species.
Dr Peter Gray and Dr Richard Dawkins talk to the media in April.
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