The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Spencer, Herbert (1820–1903)

  • M. Donnelly
Reference work entry


Though largely ignored today, Herbert Spencer was one of the most influential scientists and philosophers of the late 19th century. He was born at Derby to a family of Dissenters, and educated at home. As a young man he worked on the London & Birmingham Railway, acquiring considerable practical knowledge of civil engineering and, through his observation of railway cuts, expertise in geology. He had no university training, but read extremely widely in an array of fields.


Evolutionism Social Darwinism Spencer, H. 

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  1. Offer, J., ed. 2000. Herbert spencer: Critical assessments. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Weinstein, D. 1998. Equal freedom and utility: Herbert Spencer’s liberal utilitarianism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Donnelly
    • 1
  1. 1.