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Steven Pinker: The Past, Present, and Future of Violence

  • Harvard University Science Center Hall D (map)

The past: Contrary to the popular impression view that we are living in extraordinarily violent times, rates of violence at all scales have been in decline over the course of history.

The present: Human nature comprises faculties that encourage violence, such as dominance and revenge, but also faculties that inhibit it, such as self-control, empathy, and reason. The level of violence in a given society depends on how its norms and institutions affect the balance between them.

The future: Professor Pinker speculates on which of the historical changes that reduced violence in the past will continue into the future.

This lecture is open to the public.