Journal of Libertarian Studies

Herbert Spencer’s Theory of Causation

The Journal of Libertarian Studies

This paper traces Spencer’s theory of causation through various disciplines, with special emphasis on Spencer’s “scientific” system of ethics — something he regarded as the crowning achievement of his life’s work. I shall attempt to explain Spencer rather than criticize him. His theories are subject to many criticisms, even when accurately portrayed. But, more often than not, slander and misrepresentation have been the stock tools of Spencer critics. Spencer estimated that “in three cases out of four the alleged opinions of mine condemned by opponents, are not opinions of mine at all, but are opinions wrongly ascribed by them to me.” Unfortunately, the record of commentators during the past few decades has not been much better.

Volume 5, Number 2 (1981)


Smith, George H. “Herbert Spencer’s Theory of Causation.” Journal of Libertarian Studies 5, No.2 (1981): 113–152.

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