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The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker
1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, availability heuristic, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, Broken windows theory, business cycle, California gold rush, Cass Sunstein, citation needed, clean water, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Columbine, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, crack epidemic, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, demographic transition, desegregation, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, experimental subject, facts on the ground, failed state, first-past-the-post, Flynn Effect, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, fudge factor, full employment, George Santayana, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, global village, Henri Poincaré, Hobbesian trap, humanitarian revolution, impulse control, income inequality, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, lake wobegon effect, libertarian paternalism, long peace, longitudinal study, loss aversion, Marshall McLuhan, mass incarceration, McMansion, means of production, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, Nelson Mandela, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Singer: altruism, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Republic of Letters, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, security theater, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Stanford prison experiment, statistical model, stem cell, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, Turing machine, twin studies, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, zero-sum game
If so, interstate war among developed countries would be going the way of customs such as slavery, serfdom, breaking on the wheel, disemboweling, bearbaiting, cat-burning, heretic-burning, witch-drowning, thief-hanging, public executions, the display of rotting corpses on gibbets, dueling, debtors’ prisons, flogging, keelhauling, and other practices that passed from unexceptionable to controversial to immoral to unthinkable to not-thought-about during the Humanitarian Revolution. Can we identify exogenous causes of the new humanitarian aversion to war among developed countries? In chapter 4 I conjectured that the Humanitarian Revolution was accelerated by publishing, literacy, travel, science, and other cosmopolitan forces that broaden people’s intellectual and moral horizons. The second half of the 20th century has obvious parallels. It saw the dawn of television, computers, satellites, telecommunications, and jet travel, and an unprecedented expansion of science and higher education.
world Homo heidelbergensis Homo sapiens; see also human beings homosexuality: decriminalization of gay rights and the Holocaust oppression of sexual orientation tolerance of violence against Hong Kong, homicides in honor culture of dueling military codes of Hooke, Robert Horowitz, Donald Horton, Heather Howard, Catherine Howard, Michael Howard, Robert Hrdy, Sarah Hudson, Valerie Hughes, Geoffrey Hugo, Victor Huguenot Wars human beings: altricial brains of common ancestor with chimps multiparous nepostic polygenic character traits of polygynous in prehistory primate ancestors of sexually dimorphic sexual reproduction of violent tendencies of Human Genome Project humanism and Enlightenment humanitarian aid Humanitarian Revolution attempts to explain blood and soil capital punishment civilization and enlightenment and Civilizing Process cruel punishments despotism and political violence empathy and regard for human life Enlightenment humanism and major war reduction in use of force and Rights Revolutions slavery superstitious killing human life, value placed on human nature: and conservatism constancy of motives of psychological history of theories of universal and violence see also human beings human rights: and capital punishment and corporal punishment of children and criminalization of homosexuality Helsinki Accords and Humanitarian Revolution vs. nationalism principle of and social contract Universal Declaration Human Rights Watch human sacrifice Human Security Report Project (HSRP) human trafficking human universals Hume, David humor Humphrey, Hubert H.
Źiźek, Slavoj Zola, Émile ALSO BY STEVEN PINKER Language Learnability and Language Development Learnability and Cognition The Language Instinct How the Mind Works Words and Rules The Blank Slate The Stuff of Thought EDITED BY STEVEN PINKER Visual Cognition Connections and Symbols (with Jacques Mehler) Lexical and Conceptual Semantics (with Beth Levin) The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2004 Table of Contents Title Page Copyright Page Dedication Epigraph Preface Chapter 1 - A FOREIGN COUNTRY Chapter 2 - THE PACIFICATION PROCESS Chapter 3 - THE CIVILIZING PROCESS Chapter 4 - THE HUMANITARIAN REVOLUTION Chapter 5 - THE LONG PEACE Chapter 6 - THE NEW PEACE Chapter 7 - THE RIGHTS REVOLUTIONS Chapter 8 - INNER DEMONS Chapter 9 - BETTER ANGELS Chapter 10 - ON ANGELS’ WINGS NOTES REFERENCES INDEX ALSO BY STEVEN PINKER Table of Contents Title Page Copyright Page Dedication Epigraph Preface Chapter 1 - A FOREIGN COUNTRY Chapter 2 - THE PACIFICATION PROCESS Chapter 3 - THE CIVILIZING PROCESS Chapter 4 - THE HUMANITARIAN REVOLUTION Chapter 5 - THE LONG PEACE Chapter 6 - THE NEW PEACE Chapter 7 - THE RIGHTS REVOLUTIONS Chapter 8 - INNER DEMONS Chapter 9 - BETTER ANGELS Chapter 10 - ON ANGELS’ WINGS NOTES REFERENCES INDEX ALSO BY STEVEN PINKER
More From Less: The Surprising Story of How We Learned to Prosper Using Fewer Resources – and What Happens Next by Andrew McAfee
back-to-the-land, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, Corn Laws, creative destruction, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, Erik Brynjolfsson, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Haber-Bosch Process, Hans Rosling, humanitarian revolution, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, intangible asset, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Snow's cholera map, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Khan Academy, Landlord’s Game, Louis Pasteur, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, market fundamentalism, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, precision agriculture, profit maximization, profit motive, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, telepresence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Davenport, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Veblen good, War on Poverty, Whole Earth Catalog, World Values Survey
The cognitive scientist Steven Pinker writes that sentiment toward slavery began to change in the late 1700s with the rise of humanism, or the belief that “the universal capacity of a person to suffer and flourish… call[s] on our moral concern.” As Pinker writes in his book Enlightenment Now, “The Enlightenment is sometimes called the Humanitarian Revolution, because it led to the abolition of barbaric practices [such as slavery] that had been commonplace across civilizations for millennia.” This humanitarian revolution has been hugely successful; around the world most people now believe that “if slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong,” as Abraham Lincoln put it in an 1864 letter. Revulsion at slavery was so strong and so widespread that the movement to abolish it gained momentum even as the Industrial Era did. This era brought with it a great demand for labor (which was, as we’ll see, sometimes satisfied by children), but many people and governments concluded that to buy, sell, and own humans to meet this demand was unacceptable.
weighs 4.7 trillion times more than all of us: Michael Marshall, “Humanity Weighs in at 287 Million Tonnes,” New Scientist, June 18, 2012, https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21945-humanity-weighs-in-at-287-million-tonnes/. Chapter 3: Industrial Errors “the universal capacity of a person”: Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (New York: Penguin, 2018), Kindle, location 408. “sometimes called the Humanitarian Revolution”: Ibid., preview location 4117. “if slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong”: Abraham Lincoln, letter to Albert G. Hodges, April 14, 1864, Abraham Lincoln Online: Speeches & Writings, accessed March 18, 2019, http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/hodges.htm. the bloodiest in the country’s history: “Civil War Casualties,” American Battlefield Trust, accessed March 18, 2019, https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/civil-war-casualties.
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker
3D printing, access to a mobile phone, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, Arthur Eddington, artificial general intelligence, availability heuristic, Ayatollah Khomeini, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, clockwork universe, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, distributed generation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, double helix, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, end world poverty, endogenous growth, energy transition, European colonialism, experimental subject, Exxon Valdez, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, first-past-the-post, Flynn Effect, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, frictionless, frictionless market, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, Hans Rosling, hedonic treadmill, helicopter parent, Hobbesian trap, humanitarian revolution, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Snow's cholera map, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, Laplace demon, life extension, long peace, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, Martin Wolf, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, Nathan Meyer Rothschild: antibiotics, Nelson Mandela, New Journalism, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, obamacare, open economy, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, precision agriculture, prediction markets, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, Republic of Letters, Richard Feynman, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Saturday Night Live, science of happiness, Scientific racism, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, supervolcano, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, union organizing, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey, Y2K
Given that we are equipped with the capacity to sympathize with others, nothing can prevent the circle of sympathy from expanding from the family and tribe to embrace all of humankind, particularly as reason goads us into realizing that there can be nothing uniquely deserving about ourselves or any of the groups to which we belong.10 We are forced into cosmopolitanism: accepting our citizenship in the world.11 A humanistic sensibility impelled the Enlightenment thinkers to condemn not just religious violence but also the secular cruelties of their age, including slavery, despotism, executions for frivolous offenses such as shoplifting and poaching, and sadistic punishments such as flogging, amputation, impalement, disembowelment, breaking on the wheel, and burning at the stake. The Enlightenment is sometimes called the Humanitarian Revolution, because it led to the abolition of barbaric practices that had been commonplace across civilizations for millennia.12 If the abolition of slavery and cruel punishment is not progress, nothing is, which brings us to the fourth Enlightenment ideal. With our understanding of the world advanced by science and our circle of sympathy expanded through reason and cosmopolitanism, humanity could make intellectual and moral progress.
To emphasize that the declines took place at different times and had different causes, I gave them names. The Pacification Process was a fivefold reduction in the rate of death from tribal raiding and feuding, the consequence of effective states exerting control over a territory. The Civilizing Process was a fortyfold reduction in homicide and other violent crimes which followed upon the entrenchment of the rule of law and norms of self-control in early modern Europe. The Humanitarian Revolution is another name for the Enlightenment-era abolition of slavery, religious persecution, and cruel punishments. The Long Peace is the historians’ term for the decline of great-power and interstate war after World War II. Following the end of the Cold War, the world has enjoyed a New Peace with fewer civil wars, genocides, and autocracies. And since the 1950s the world has been swept by a cascade of Rights Revolutions: civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, children’s rights, and animal rights.
After the Enlightenment, European countries stopped executing people for any but the most heinous crimes: by the middle of the 19th century, Britain had reduced the number of capital offenses from 222 to 4. And the countries looked for methods of execution such as drop hanging that were as humane as such a gruesome practice could pretend to be. After World War II, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights inaugurated a second humanitarian revolution, capital punishment was abolished altogether in country after country, and in Europe today it lingers only in Belarus. The abolition of capital punishment has gone global (figure 14-3), and today the death penalty is on death row.33 In the last three decades, two or three countries have abolished it every year, and less than a fifth of the world’s nations continue to execute people.
The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World by Oona A. Hathaway, Scott J. Shapiro
9 dash line, Albert Einstein, anti-globalists, bank run, Bartolomé de las Casas, battle of ideas, British Empire, clean water, colonial rule, continuation of politics by other means, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Donald Trump, facts on the ground, failed state, humanitarian revolution, index card, long peace, Monroe Doctrine, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, South China Sea, spice trade, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, uranium enrichment, zero-sum game
According to Vattel: “If, sometimes, the furious and ungovernable soldier carries his brutality so far as to violate female chastity, or to massacre women, children, and old men, the officers lament those excesses: they exert their utmost efforts to put a stop to them; and a prudent and humane general even punishes them whenever he can.”74 What had previously been merely lamentable became criminal thanks to the new Principle of Distinction. Why armies spared civilians at this point is a matter much debated among historians. Some attribute the new rules to moral progress—either as part of the humanitarian revolution of the Enlightenment, which began to regard all human life as valuable, or the specific desire not to revisit the horrors of previous wars.75 Others situate these developments in the political milieu of eighteenth-century Europe—either because the aristocracy dominated the army and regarded wars as duels governed by the rules of chivalry,76 or because monarchs dominated the armies and treated wars as formal legal procedures governed by the dignified rules of the courtroom.77 While Vattel strained credulity when he claimed that civilians had “nothing to fear from the sword of the enemy”—unarmed civilians are never safe from armed soldiers in wartime—it was undeniable that their lot had vastly improved.78 The radical depopulation of cities and villages so characteristic of the wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries ceased by the middle of the eighteenth century, as the inhabitants no longer had to flee from gangs of undisciplined soldiers who raided their homes, raped the women, and killed for sport.
It didn’t go without saying that abuse of civilians was punished by one side, only that prudence and humanity suggested it should. Vattel indicates elsewhere that the laws of war could also be enforced by the retaliatory refusal to give quarter. Ibid., 3.8.141. 75. Eric Robson, “The Armed Forces and the Art of War,” in The New Cambridge Modern History, eds. G. R. Potter and G. R. Elton, Vol. 7: The Old Regime, 1713–63, ed. J. O. Lindsay (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 165. On the humanitarian revolution and Enlightenment humanism, see Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (New York: Viking, 2011), 129–92. 76. Bell, The First Total War; Carl Schmitt, Theory of the Partisan: Intermediate Commentary on the Concept of the Political, trans. G. L. Ulem (New York: Telos Press, 2007), 36. 77. James Whitman, The Verdict of Battle: The Law of Victory and the Making of Modern War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012); Randall Lesaffer, “Siege Warfare in Early Modern Europe,” in E.