War, Peace, and Human Nature

The Convergence of Evolutionary and Cultural Views

War, Peace, and Human Nature

Have humans always waged war? Is warring an ancient evolutionary adaptation or a relatively recent behavior--and what does that tell us about human nature? In War, Peace, and Human Nature, editor Douglas P. Fry brings together leading experts in such fields as evolutionary biology, archaeology, anthropology, and primatology to answer fundamental questions about peace, conflict, and human nature in an evolutionary context. The chapters in this book demonstrate that humans clearly have the capacity to make war, but since war is absent in some cultures, it cannot be viewed as a human universal. And counter to frequent presumption the actual archaeological record reveals the recent emergence of war. It does not typify the ancestral type of human society, the nomadic forager band, and contrary to widespread assumptions, there is little support for the idea that war is ancient or an evolved adaptation. Views of human nature as inherently warlike stem not from the facts but from cultural views embedded in Western thinking. Drawing upon evolutionary and ecological models; the archaeological record of the origins of war; nomadic forager societies past and present; the value and limitations of primate analogies; and the evolution of agonism, including restraint; the chapters in this interdisciplinary volume refute many popular generalizations and effectively bring scientific objectivity to the culturally and historically controversial subjects of war, peace, and human nature.

War and Human Nature

War and Human Nature

Why did President John F. Kennedy choose a strategy of confrontation during the Cuban missile crisis even though his secretary of defense stated that the presence of missiles in Cuba made no difference? Why did large numbers of Iraqi troops surrender during the Gulf War even though they had been ordered to fight and were capable of doing so? Why did Hitler declare war on the United States knowing full well the power of that country? War and Human Nature argues that new findings about the way humans are shaped by their inherited biology may help provide answers to such questions. This seminal work by former Defense Department official Stephen Peter Rosen contends that human evolutionary history has affected the way we process the information we use to make decisions. The result is that human choices and calculations may be very different from those predicted by standard models of rational behavior. This notion is particularly true in the area of war and peace, Rosen contends. Human emotional arousal affects how people learn the lessons of history. For example, stress and distress influence people's views of the future, and testosterone levels play a role in human social conflict. This thought-provoking and timely work explores the mind that has emerged from the biological sciences over the last generation. In doing so, it helps shed new light on many persistent puzzles in the study of war.

War, Peace, and Christianity

Questions and Answers from a Just-War Perspective

War, Peace, and Christianity

With issues of war and peace at the forefront of current events, an informed Christian response is needed. This timely volume answers 104 questions from a just-war perspective, offering thoughtful yet succinct answers. Ranging from the theoretical to the practical, the volume looks at how the just-war perspective relates to the philosopher, historian, statesman, theologian, combatant, and individual—with particular emphases on its historical development and application to contemporary geopolitical challenges. Forgoing ideological extremes, Charles and Demy give much attention to the biblical teaching on the subject as they provide moral guidance. A valuable resource for considering the ethical issues relating to war, Christians will find this book's user-friendly format a helpful starting point for discussion.

Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology)

Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology)

Winner of the Inaugural Expanded Reason Award: A wide-ranging exploration of the role of childhood experiences in adult morality. Moral development has traditionally been considered a matter of reasoning—of learning and acting in accordance with abstract rules. On this model, largely taken for granted in modern societies, acts of selfishness, aggression, and ecological mindlessness are failures of will, moral problems that can be solved by acting in accordance with a higher rationality. But both ancient philosophy and recent scientific scholarship emphasize implicit systems, such as action schemas and perceptual filters that guide behavior and shape human development. In this integrative book, Darcia Narvaez argues that morality goes “all the way down” into our neurobiological and emotional development, and that a person’s moral architecture is largely established early on in life. Moral rationality and virtue emerge “bottom up” from lived experience, so it matters what that experience is. Bringing together deep anthropological history, ethical philosophy, and contemporary neurobiological science, she demonstrates where modern industrialized societies have fallen away from the cultural practices that made us human in the first place. Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality advances the field of developmental moral psychology in three key ways. First, it provides an evolutionary framework for early childhood experience grounded in developmental systems theory, encompassing not only genes but a wide array of environmental and epigenetic factors. Second, it proposes a neurobiological basis for the development of moral sensibilities and cognition, describing ethical functioning at multiple levels of complexity and context before turning to a theory of the emergence of wisdom. Finally, it embraces the sociocultural orientations of our ancestors and cousins in small-band hunter-gatherer societies—the norm for 99% of human history—for a re-envisioning of moral life, from the way we value and organize child raising to how we might frame a response to human-made global ecological collapse. Integrating the latest scholarship in clinical sciences and positive psychology, Narvaez proposes a developmentally informed ecological and ethical sensibility as a way to self-author and revise the ways we think about parenting and sociality. The techniques she describes point towards an alternative vision of moral development and flourishing, one that synthesizes traditional models of executive, top-down wisdom with “primal” wisdom built by multiple systems of biological and cultural influence from the ground up.

The Moral Arc

How Science Makes Us Better People

The Moral Arc

Bestselling author Michael Shermer's exploration of science and morality that demonstrates how the scientific way of thinking has made people, and society as a whole, more moral From Galileo and Newton to Thomas Hobbes and Martin Luther King, Jr., thinkers throughout history have consciously employed scientific techniques to better understand the non-physical world. The Age of Reason and the Enlightenment led theorists to apply scientific reasoning to the non-scientific disciplines of politics, economics, and moral philosophy. Instead of relying on the woodcuts of dissected bodies in old medical texts, physicians opened bodies themselves to see what was there; instead of divining truth through the authority of an ancient holy book or philosophical treatise, people began to explore the book of nature for themselves through travel and exploration; instead of the supernatural belief in the divine right of kings, people employed a natural belief in the right of democracy. In The Moral Arc, Shermer will explain how abstract reasoning, rationality, empiricism, skepticism--scientific ways of thinking--have profoundly changed the way we perceive morality and, indeed, move us ever closer to a more just world.

Beyond War

The Human Potential for Peace

Beyond War

A profoundly heartening view of human nature, Beyond War offers a hopeful prognosis for a future without war. Douglas P. Fry convincingly argues that our ancient ancestors were not innately warlike--and neither are we. He points out that, for perhaps ninety-nine percent of our history, for well over a million years, humans lived in nomadic hunter-and-gatherer groups, egalitarian bands where warfare was a rarity. Drawing on archaeology and fascinating recent fieldwork on hunter-gatherer bands from around the world, Fry debunks the idea that war is ancient and inevitable. For instance, among Aboriginal Australians, warfare was an extreme anomaly. Fry also points out that even today, when war seems ever present, the vast majority of us live peaceful, nonviolent lives. We are not as warlike as we think, and if we can learn from our ancestors, we may be able to move beyond war to provide real justice and security for the world.

A Talent for Friendship

Rediscovery of a Remarkable Trait

A Talent for Friendship

This lively, provocative text presents a new way to understand friendship. Professor John Terrell argues that the ability to make friends is an evolved human trait not unlike our ability to walk upright on two legs or our capacity for speech and complex abstract reasoning. Terrell charts how this trait has evolved by investigating two unique functions of the human brain: the ability to remake the outside world to suit our collective needs, and our capacity to escape into our own inner thoughts and imagine how things might and ought to be. The text is richly illustrated and written in an engaging style, and will appeal to students, scholars, and general readers interested in anthropology, evolutionary and cognitive science, and psychology more broadly.

The Myth of Race

The Myth of Race

Although eugenics is now widely discredited, some groups and individuals claim a new scientific basis for old racist assumptions. Pondering the continuing influence of racist research and thought, despite all evidence to the contrary, Robert Sussman explains why—when it comes to race—too many people still mistake bigotry for science.

Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution

Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution

John Howard Yoder was one of the most important thinkers on just war and pacifism in the late twentieth century. This newly compiled collection of Yoder's lectures and writings on these issues describes, analyzes, and evaluates various patterns of thought and practice in Western Christian history. The volume, now made widely available for the first time, makes Yoder's stimulating insights more accessible to a broader audience and substantially contributes to ongoing discussions concerning the history, theology, and ethics of war and peace. Theologians and ethicists, students of Yoder's thought, and all readers seeking a better understanding of war and pacifism will value this work.