Violence seems ubiquitous: terrorist attacks, atrocities of war, civil unrest, let alone the backdrop of "routine" homicide, violence against women, child abuse, and so on. It seems absurd to argue that violence is declining, that peace and civility are gaining ground. Yet that is the argument put forth by Steven Pinker in his exhaustively-researched book The Better Angels of Our Nature. In this five-week course, we will examine Pinker's thesis, both reviewing the substantial evidence that diverse forms of violence have in fact declined and also exploring why these changes have taken place. We will have ample time to discuss both the history of violence (long-term and recent) and prospects for further peace. (Note: an open mind is required, a strong stomach is not; there will be no gratuitous violent imagery in this class.) Lecture (plus Questions) Facilitated Discussion
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