Violence, Nurture, and Survival Machines


My paper focuses on Steven Pinker’s argument concerning the decline of violence in human societies. In his widely discussed book – The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined – Pinker tries to provide sufficient evidence for the fact that the belief according to which violence is increasing in contemporary societies cannot be backed by statistical data. The illusion is perpetuated by multiple factors, among which media biases constitute a central one. A careful examination of the history of violence shows, in fact, a significant decrease in time. Several historical forces have contributed to this (the modern nation-state, the process of feminization, the growth of commerce, the emergence of cosmopolitanism, the growing power of reason), while four inner mechanisms are also at work (moral sense, self-control, empathy and reason). Moreover, this progressive stance is in danger of being held back by destructive elements such as dominance, predatory violence or the need for revenge.

Keywords: violence, evolutionism, Hobbesian trap, cultural software, reason

[Full Article PDF]