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Revolution vs. Reform. What's the Difference?. Definition. Reform means to change, possibly a reversion to what is perceived to be a pure original state. It is used, however, for any change thought to be positive.

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revolution vs reform

Revolution vs. Reform

What's the Difference?

  • Reform means to change, possibly a reversion to what is perceived to be a pure original state. It is used, however, for any change thought to be positive.
  • Reform is generally distinguished from revolution. The latter moves toward basic or radical change; whereas reform may be no more than fine tuning, or at most redressing serious wrongs without altering the fundamentals of the system. Reform seeks to improve the system as it stands, never to overthrow it wholesale.
  • In the 18th century the philosophies of The Enlightenment began to have a dramatic effect, the landmark works of philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and Jean-Jacques Rousseau influencing a new generation of thinkers. In the late 18th century a movement known as Romanticism sought to combine the formal rationality of the past, with a greater and more immediate emotional and organic sense of the world. Key ideas that sparked this change were evolution, as postulated by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Erasmus Darwin, and Charles Darwin and what might now be called emergent order, such as the free market of Adam Smith. Pressures for egalitarianism, and more rapid change culminated in a period of revolution and turbulence that would see philosophy change as well.
why reform
Why Reform?
  • With the tumultuous years of 1789-1815, European culture was transformed by revolution, war and disruption. By ending many of the social and cultural props of the previous century, the stage was set for dramatic economic and political change. European philosophy participated in, and drove, many of these changes.

19th century

  • Following the Napoleonic Wars, the British Empire became the world's leading power, controlling one quarter of the world's population and one third of the land area. It enforced a Pax Britannica, encouraged trade, and battled rampant piracy. During this time the 19th century was an era of widespread invention and discovery, with significant developments in the understanding or manipulation of physics, chemistry, biology, electricity, and metallurgy largely setting the groundworks for the comparably overwhelming and very rapid technological innovations which would take place the following century. The last remaining undiscovered landmasses of Earth, largely pacific island chains and atolls, were finally founded during this century, and with the exception of the extreme zones of the Arctic and Antarctic, accurate and detailed maps of the globe were available by the 1890s.

Slavery was greatly reduced around the world. Following a successful slave revolt in Haiti, Britain forced the Barbary pirates to halt their practice of kidnapping and enslaving Europeans, banned slavery throughout its domain, and charged its navy with ending the global slave trade. Britain abolished slavery in 1834, America's Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War would end slavery in 1863, and in Brazil slavery ended in 1888 (see Abolitionism). Similarly, serfdom was abolished in Russia.

  • Electricity, steel and petroleum fuelled a Second Industrial Revolution which enabled the German Empire, Japan, and the United States to become great powers that raced to create empires of their own. However, Russia and Qing DynastyChina failed to keep pace with the other world powers which led to massive social unrest in both empires.
reform was possible because of economics
Reform was possible because of economics
  • As people like Carnegie and Rockefeller made money through huge companies, people started to realize that if they banded together they could change their lives.
  • Unions of people started to stand up to governments and companies and demanded reform. Faced with losses of money, governments installed new laws to protect people.
abolition of slavery
Abolition of Slavery
  • After the passing of Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1807, British captains who were caught continuing the trade were fined £100 for every slave found on board. However, this law did not stop the British slave trade. If slave-ships were in danger of being captured by the British navy, captains often reduced the fines they had to pay by ordering the slaves to be thrown into the sea. Some people involved in the anti-slave trade campaign argued that the only way to end the suffering of the slaves was to make slavery illegal. A new Anti-Slavery Society was formed in 1823. Members included Thomas Clarkson, Henry Brougham, William Wilberforce, Thomas Fowell Buxton, Elizabeth Heyrick, Mary Lloyd, Jane Smeal, Elizabeth Pease and Anne Knight). Parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833. This act gave all slaves in the British Empire their freedom. The British government paid compensation to the slave owners. The amount that the plantation owners received depended on the number of slaves that they had. For example, the Bishop of Exeter's 665 slaves resulted in him receiving £12,700.
epilogue to the padlock
Epilogue to The Padlock
  • Read and analyze this poem with a partner
  • Class discussion on Slavery and why reform changed it?
  • Logic and science
charles darwin
Charles Darwin

It is known that Darwin, as well as his friends and family, were very much in favor of the Great Reform Act of 1832, which extended voting rights to millions of formally disenfranchised citizens. He was also a staunch supporter of the abolishment of slavery. Here are a few excerpts from letters Darwin wrote home while on the Beagle Voyage:


"The Captain does every thing in his power to assist me, & we get on very well - but I thank my better fortune he has not made me a renegade to Whig principles: I would not be a Tory, if it was merely on account of their cold hearts about that scandal to Christian Nations, Slavery."-- To Revd. John Henslow 18 May 1832 from Rio de Janeiro.

  • "What a proud thing for England, if she is the first European nation which utterly abolishes it. I was told before leaving England, that after in Slave countries: all my opinions would be altered; the only alteration I am aware of is forming a much higher estimate of the Negro character."-- To his sister, Catherine, on 22 May 1833 from Maldonado, Rio Plata.
  • "It does one's heart good to hear how things are going on in England. Hurrah for the honest Whigs. I trust they will soon attack that monstrous stain on our boasted liberty, Colonial Slavery. I have seen enough of Slavery & the disposition of the negros, to be thoroughly disgusted with the lies & nonsense one hears on the subject in England."-- To John Herbert on 2 June, 1833 from Maldonado, Rio Plata.
  • How do Darwin’s ideas represent reform?
  • Explain how Darwin’s views on evolution lead to his views on anti-slavery?
  • Why do Adam Smith’s ideas combined with Charles Darwin’s, demand the need for social reform. Hint why slavery, why not?
science vs religion the ongoing debate
Science vs. Religion the ongoing debate


  • God created the world and its life forms in seven literal days
  • The Bible is the inspired Word of God, not the work of Man
  • The Bible is meant to be taken literally
  • The Earth is relatively young (10,000 years or less)
  • The universe is self-existing and self created.
  • The Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old.
  • Life began as a result of spontaneous generation.
  • Mankind is a result of organic evolution.
  • Morality is an artificial construct of humans-there is no transcendent moral standard
  • Religion and religious belief/dogma is harmful to human development
  • Religion is antithetical to reason
scored discussion
Scored Discussion
  • Religion vs. Evolution
  • Is there a middle ground?


2 Points: Taking a position on a question

1 Point: Making a Relevant Comment

2 Points: Using evidence to make a point or statement

1 Point: Drawing another person into the discussion

1 Point: Asking a clarifying question or moving the discussion along

2 Points: Making an Analogy (reform is like doing a retest-you learn from your mistakes and correct them for a better mark)

2 Points: Recognizing contradictions and irrelevant comments

  • 2 groups of 6 students


-2 Points: Not paying attention or distracting others

-2 Points: Interuption

-1 Point: Irrelevant Comment

-3 Points: Monopolizing the discussion

-3 Points: Making a personal attack

  • Hand out debate sheet and explain
  • Teams
  • Resolution: Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is logical and scientific and thus should be taught as fact
environmental reforn
Environmental Reforn
  • Lorax
  • Watch Inconvenient Truth
essay question
Essay Question:
  • Comparing the Lorax and the Inconvenient Truth Describe what environmental reform is, why it is needed, who enacts it. Draw conclusions about the consequences of not reforming.
ideas content
  • Describes:
  • Environmental Reform
  • What reform is needed
  • The Lorax
  • An Inconvenient Truth
  • Who enacts reform
    • How to educate people for it
  • Results of reform ideas on the environment
  • What are the costs of not reforming
  • Examples of Environmental Reform
  • Pollution on Earth
    • Where, why, whats being done?
  • The Lorax Mind Map
  • An Inconvenient Truth
  • Global Warming
  • Jakarta Pollution
    • Air, water, etc
word choice
Word Choice

All words from Ideas/Content

Global Warming



sentence fluency
Sentence Fluency
  • Reform, Environmental Reform and societies need for reform.