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We Are Doing Something Right: Steven Pinker and the Decline of Violence
Russell Blackford   Mar 31, 2012   Religion and Ethics  

Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and Its Causes, is a huge bug-crusher of a book. Counting its notes, bibliography, and everything else, it comes to 800 large-format pages, crammed with information, theorizing, and informal reflections.

The author has pulled together data from numerous statistical sources to back up his claim that violence has tended to decline through human history. He then tries to explain this, and overall it’s an impressive synthesis.

Based on Pinker’s figures - adduced from all those data sets - a composite graph of human violence, plotted over time, would show ups as well as downs. However, the overall downward tendency has been persistent and has taken place at every level: the family, the neighbourhood, society more broadly, and the interactions of nations and states.

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Russell Blackford Ph.D. is a fellow of the IEET, an attorney, science fiction author and critic, philosopher, and public intellectual. Dr. Blackford serves as editor-in-chief of the IEET's Journal of Evolution and Technology. He lives in Newcastle, Australia, where he is a Conjoint Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle.



COMMENTS

Yeah, and if people can’t utilize outright violence (dictatorship for instance), they can use economic violence (e.g. democracy).
Is this cynical? perhaps not; cynicism isn’t genuine cynicism if it has an underlying basis to it.. it is thus more skepticism than cynicism.

Here’s an example of a theologian who was not “tricky as a priest”:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhold_Niebuhr

By today’s standards, Niebuhr was a reactionary (which actually means ‘conservative’) but for his time, he did okay.

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