Herbert Spencer was one of the theorists, who contributed significantly in sociology and many other fields, such as biology, philosophy, anthropology, and psychology. He lived from 1820 to 1903 during which he made contributions to the field of sociology (Hocutt, 2008). The scholar’s contributions lead to the understanding of sociology from different perspectives. Sociology refers to a science that involves the study social behavior among human beings, as well as the origins, organizations, development, and institutions of the social behavior (Smith, 1981). It uses empirical investigation and analysis techniques to develop an area of knowledge, regarding social activities in human society. This discussion will consider Hebert Spencer as the influential theorist and social causation theory that researcher contributed to sociology.
Herbert made a great contribution in the field of sociology, which is clear from his five publications, namely Social Statics, First Principles, The Study of Sociology, The Principles of Sociology in Three Volumes, and The Man Versus the State (Smith, 1981). The social causation theory is evident in The Study of Sociology. Multiplication of effects is the principle that enabled Spencer to explain the mentioned above theory. The sociologist asserts that the subjection of the components of a conglomeration to a uniform force leads to the modification of the components in different ways (Smith, 1981). This happens because those components of a conglomerate undergo dissimilar conditioning. Therefore, multiplication of effects causes evolution from homogeneousness to heterogeneousness, which explains the society’s advance toward significant complexity and diversity. For instance, an increase in human population heightens competition for various activities that help individuals earn a living. The competition forces persons to embrace division of labor, which will enable different people to compete much. Along with specialization, more efficient production methods and new occupations have arisen. New products alter the tastes, habits and customs of individuals (Smith, 1981). Thus, it is evident that an increase in human population is a significant cause of a complex social atmosphere. A single change induces many other ones, and these changes cause innumerable effects.
It has been evident that Spencer used the multiplication of effects to explain social heterogeneity (Smith, 1981). The multiplication of effects also offers an explanation on how an attempt of eliminating social ills is a futile action. Social legislation for curing a social problem launches a complex web of causation that has unpredictable consequences. Examination of a phenomenon shows extremely intricate and complex causal relationships, which render accurate prediction impossible (Smith, 1981). Since calculation of a law’s impact on the entire society may not be possible due to inaccuracy in prediction. However, some prognosis can be possible in human society. Person’s behavior has some regularity that allows for the possibility of making general predictions. Sociology defines the conditions that people should maintain for a society to progress continually (Smith, 1981). Acceleration of this progress beyond the normal rate, especially through the use of legislation is tinkering with the natural law in a presumptuous way. Reversing or retarding the natural progress of human society can only be possible through a short-sighted intervention (Smith, 1981). The indicated science provides knowledge of how people should not interfere with the natural law, thereby supporting the vital conditions to progress.
The fundamental principle that constitutes the essential conditions is that the relation between causes and consequences in human actions should not undergo interference (Smith, 1981). Every person should encounter the natural effects of his or her own conduct. Evil comes from divorcing causes and consequences in human conduct while good comes from making the relationship between the pointed notions more certain and definite. The conduct and consequence doctrine is evident throughout the ethical and social writings of Spencer (Smith, 1981). Various artificial laws in human society break up the relation between human conducts and consequences, thereby hindering moral and social progress among human beings. Individuals will live morally and ethically in society when they can understand the effects of their own conducts. For instance, a person may not murder other people because such action may lead to haunting experiences or a death penalty in the current Criminal Justice.
A person profits significantly from the association and cooperation with other people in the society (Smith, 1981). However, the benefits of the viewed processes are conditional. A person’s own life-sustaining actions should not undergo interference, especially when the net benefits of cooperation and association have a high likelihood of outweighing the net negative consequences. Preservation of the relationship between conducts and consequences can only take place if mutual non-interference exists among members within human society (Smith, 1981). This explains justice, which deals with predictable relations among individuals in human society. A person continues to adapt to the surroundings, including the social life, such that when a social condition requires some conduct habits, the proper feelings come to prevail. Justice constitutes of two aspects, namely altruism and egoism, which explain the behavior people in the society (Smith, 1981). Egoism refers to a person’s wish for staying in a free of irritations and frustrations environment. Altruism pertains to wish for staying away from irritations and frustration both for oneself, and for other people.
In conclusion, Herbert Spencer made significant contributions to the field of sociology. Those are evident in a number of publications the scholar made, including Social Statics, First Principles, The Study of Sociology, The Principles of Sociology in Three Volumes, and The Man Versus the State. Spencer’s works describe sociology from various perspectives. His social causation theory shows that people do not portray some behaviors in the society if the consequences are detrimental (Smith, 1981). Therefore, Herbert Spencer was an influential theorist because of the publications he made, examples he provided throughout his works, and the applicability of social causation theory in understanding sociology.
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