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This is Carnegie's defense of competition:

It is best for the race, because it insures the survival of the fittest in every department.

What is the function of the prepositional phrase "in every department" here?

  1. It modifies "the fittest". (the fittest in every department)
  2. It modifies the verb "insures". (to insure X in every department)
  • What do you think it means? – tchrist Apr 26 at 15:26
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    In context the meaning is clearer: "It is here; we cannot evade it; no substitutes for it have been found; and while the law of competition may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department." archive.org/details/gospelofwealthot00carnuoft/page/4 – David D Apr 26 at 15:42
  • @tchrist, this is the first time I've seen 'department' in this meaning. Assuming that it's more or less synonymous with aspect here, I think the sentence may mean either 1) it insures, in every aspect, the survival of the fittest, or 2) it insures the survival of the individuals who are in every aspect the fittest – apadana Apr 26 at 19:31