It’s his merit that he has placed Darwin himself clearly in the foreground as originator of the debate on social evolution in the second half of the nineteenth century. Against this there is the drawback that Mr Hermans has not resisted the temptation to walk every side-road he encountered in his long trail of study. He needs quite a lot of space to both distinguish and connect all the diverse currents. (…) In spite of these critical remarks, in my final verdict appreciation for this clever piece of work of Mr Hermans takes precedence.
Analysing the works of social theorists such as Herbert Spencer, Alfred Russell Wallace, Ernst Haeckel, and Alfred Schäffle, as well as Darwin’s own work, Dr Hermans concludes that, although not a homogeneous ideology, different versions of social Darwinism all centred around the general notion that modern society could not, in the long run, disrupt natural selection without grave consequences.