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    Steven Pinker argues that violence – including war – has declined significantly over human history. He supports this argument by showing that we no longer morally or legally tolerate public torture, massacres, slavery and other forms of brutal violence. In fact, he writes that the “decline of violence may be the most significant and least appreciated development in the history of our species.”

    Do you agree with what he writes? Disagree? Explain your answer briefly, but be as clear and specific as possible.


Subject Literature Pages 3 Style APA


Steven Pinker and War

According to Steven Pinker, violence and war have significantly reduced over human history. He argues that since World War II, there has been a decline in individuals morally and legally tolerating public torture, slavery, massacre, and other forms of brutal violence (Pinker, 2017). Over the past decades, there has been significant debate regarding if there is a long-term decline in war and armed conflict. Evaluating the number of war mortalities since World War II, thinkers such as Steven Pinker conclude that there is certainly a decline in war and violence compared to the early Cold War period. However, this paper argues against Pinker’s argument and disagrees that the decline of violence may be the most significant and underrated development in human history. Although the nature of war and violence has altered significantly since the formation of the United Nations, violence and war continue to increase across the world.

Pinker’s argument may not be valid due to various reasons. For instance, the war in the modern world tends to be more deadly and often experienced between domestic groups rather than states. According to Mann (2018), homicides are becoming more frequent in some parts of the world, while gender-based attacks increase globally. Worldwide, the utter number of war mortalities has been decreasing since 1946. However, increased violence and conflicts are currently experienced between non-state actors including political militias, criminal gangs, and international terrorist groups (Mann, 2018). The drivers of modern conflicts and violence include unsettled regional tensions, illicit economic gain, breakdown in the rule of war, and shortage of resources due to climate change. Today crime kills way more individuals than armed conflicts. A study that was conducted in 2018 indicated at least half a million individuals across the world are killed in homicides, followed by 89,000 killed in active armed conflicts and 19,000 killed in terrorist attacks annually (Mann, 2018). The number of homicides continues to increase due to increased poverty rates and organized crime and gang violence. Thus, Pinker’s argument seems wrong, given that internal conflicts continue to increase. Regarding women and children, the habitat remains the most unsafe place. Although there are currently women empowerment programs, women continue to tolerate the heaviest load of hazardous victimization, due to misogynistic values, discrimination, and dependency, which continues worldwide, mostly in low-income nations.


According to Pinker, in the modern world, war seems to have declined since the great powers, and developed nations, have hardly faced each other in a combat zone, a historically extraordinary state of affairs. Moreover, he argues that since the end of the Cold War, all kinds of war have declined across the world including discrimination, slavery, public torture, and massacre. However, this paper argues that conflicts and war could not possibly decline, given that human nature has not altered. Individuals continue to have inborn tendencies to violence. The indication for native aggressive tendencies is portrayed in the ambiguity of violence among primates and in the universality of aggression in human communities such as rape, homicide, domestic aggression, pillaging, demonstrations, and warfare.  Nonetheless, there is a significant reason to consider that some genes, brain circuits, hormones, and selective pressures militate toward aggression as the human species evolves. Conclusively, Pinker is wrong about the decline of violence. 


Mann, M. (2018). Have wars and violence declined?. Theory and Society47(1), 37-60. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11186-018-9305-y

Pinker, S. (2017). The surprising decline in violence. TED2007. Available at: https://www. ted. com/talks/steven_ pinker_on_the_myth_ of_ violence/transcript. http://liberalstudiesguides.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/03/Steven-Pinker-The-surprising-decline-in-violence-TED-Talk-Transcript.pdf





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