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"Social Classes and Social Duties" was the subject of the third lecture in the Radcliffe Endowment Fund series given yesterday afternoon at the New Lecture Hall by Professor F. W. Taussig '79.
Professor Taussig declared that the present social stratification started very early in history and has always been existent since. "There are two radically different explanations of this condition", he said. "The aristocratic view is the doctrine of superiority, the idea that there are inborn differences between the classes of society. The democratic view, the doctrine of privilege, is that the difference is caused by a difference in environment and education".
Professor Taussig stated that there were three modes of approach to the problem: by statistics, by experimental psychology, and by biology. The statistical mode has been tried twice on a large scale, the speaker declared. These experiments had exactly the same results, but they were interpreted in directly opposite ways by the two experimenters.
Professor Taussig said that experimental psychology was applied to the problem through a number of intelligence tests given to very young children, but that these tests did not prove conclusive.
From the Biological Standpoint
"Finally", said the speaker, "when approached from the biological standpoint, the theory of superiority seems to be substantiated. Since the time of Darwin, biologists have recognized the fact that moral and mental as well as physical characteristics are inherited. Able individuals have able descendents, so able groups are followed by able groups, and the theory of natural superiority in social classes is upheld."
Professor Taussig went on to say, however, that this innate potentially was brought out and developed by environment. If a group is naturally superior to another, it will become more so through environment.
Innate Capabilities the Same
"Our innate capabilities are the same now as they were 2000 years ago; we have developed our potentialities. It is environment that regulates this development.
"The higher classes", the speaker concluded", are thus sided by both natural superiority and environment, so they have a double obligation to use their abilities for the common good".
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