“Philosophy of Violence” with Steven Pinker

Episode 34:

Originally broadcast: July 10, 2011

Steven Pinker argues that the world is less violent today than it has ever been before. For some of his critics, this claim is more than false, it’s bizarre. What is Pinker’s argument, what does it tell us about human nature, and how should we think about violence in general? Join WHY? as we explore Steven’s newest book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined, and come face to face with one of the contemporary world’s most important questions: is there moral progress?

Steven Pinker is the Harvard College Professor and the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. His research on visual cognition and the psychology of language has won prizes from the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the American Psychological Association. He is the author of numerous books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, and The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. He is the Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and writes frequently for The New Republic, The New York Times, and other publications. He has been named Humanist of the Year, and is listed in Foreign Policy and Prospect magazine’s “The World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals” and in Time magazine’s “The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today.”

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