The Better Angels of Our Nature

better angels by peter singer

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined’ is a 2011 book by American cognitive scientist Steven Pinker arguing that violence in the world, especially the western part, has declined both in the long run and in the short. He also suggests explanations of why this has happened. The phrase ‘the better angels of our nature’ stems from the last words of Lincoln’s first inaugural address. Due to the highly interdisciplinary nature of the book Pinker uses the works of political scientist John Mueller and sociologist Norbert Elias, among others.

The extent of Elias’ influence on Pinker can be adduced from the title of Chapter 3: ‘The Civilizing Process,’ which is taken from the title of Elias’ seminal sociology text. Pinker also draws upon the work of international relations scholar Joshua Goldstein, and both have co-written a New York Times op-ed article titled ‘War Really Is Going Out of Style’ that summarizes many of their shared views. Both authors also appeared together at Harvard’s Institute of Politics to answer questions from academics and students concerning their similar thesis.’

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