I need someone to check carefully and correct all the mistakes and i know that they are quite many. Please don’t waste my time or yours if you are not up for the task.Running head: PHILOSOPHICAL
Global violence, ethics, and religion
Dr. Steven Pinker in the history of global violence takes up a thesis that humans have
become less violent over time. He argues that violence has been in decline for long stretches of
time. However, the decline has not been steady neither has it brought it to zero, nor it is
guaranteed to continue we may be living in the in the most peaceful era of species existence (C D
Broad, 2014). The decline is not attributed to biological changes in humans but to something he
calls better angels. To support his idea; he traces evidence such as persistent historical
development that are visible a scale from millennia to years from wars and genocides to the
treatment of children and animals. Also military conflict, homicide, genocide, torture, criminal
racial justice and ethnic minorities
Pinker opposes the view that humans are necessarily violent and has to undergo radical
change to become more peaceful and that the radical change must come from external sources.
However, the decline has been due to the evolution of the cultural and material that has given
peaceable motives an upper hand. He identifies some arguments as for why violence among
humans has decreased throughout the centuries. He identified drivers for multiple declines in
violence are as follows.
The Leviathan according to philosopher Hobbes the modern nation-state with legitimate
monopolistic power that exerts a force on people against trying an exploitative attack, reduce the
need for revenge, and self-centeredness (Barbara MacKinnon, 2014).
The emergence of technological advancement has improved commerce over and beyond
trans-boundaries involving larger groups of trading partners. As a result, other people become
more valuable alive than dead and are therefore less likely to become targets of demonization
Empowerment and increasing respect for women and human rights
Mobility education and literacy with mass media interception that has made people learn
the value of other people and embraced them.
Reasoning and rationality to human affairs that has enabled people to recognize the dark
and pain caused by violence and instead they have sought for solutions towards their differences.
In his lecture, Pinker talks of better angles which are motives that have contributed to the
decline of violence and the inner demon which are psychological systems that can accelerate
violence and finally the major historical incidents of decline in violence. These remarkable
trends self-realization as the pacification process which describes the life of man is solitary as a
hunter and gatherer and agricultural civilization with governments that reduced feuding and
raiding and consequently violent deaths. There was an improvement in the late middle age to the
20th century where Europeans experienced a substantial decline in homicide cases. The
humanitarian revolution between 17th and 18th century, he says that it was remarkable as it saw
the first organized movements to finish slavery, dueling, judicial torture, erroneous killing, brutal
punishment, and cruelty to animals, together with the first stimulating of orderly pacifism (Hills,
2012). The long peace followed he says it took place after world war II and the great powers, and
the developed states stopped waging war on one another. The new order marked by a decline in
civil wars, genocides, repression by autocratic governments, and terrorist attacks throughout the
world. Finally, is the rights revolution that arose from the concept of human rights and saw a
growing objection against hostility on smaller scales, including violence against ethnic
minorities, women, children and animals from late1950s to date?
Pinker points out the better angels as empathy, reason, self-control and moral sense that
direct humans from violence towards altruism. He says it is not due to the biological evolvement
of humans to less violent people but the motivation from the above four drivers. On the other
hand, Pinker identifies the-the inner demons that direct people towards violence. He argues that
aggression is an output of several psychological problems that have different environmental
triggers, neurological basis, internal and social distribution (Hills, 2012). They are revenge,
dominance, sadism, realistic violence, and ideology.
Pinker’s arguments are well thought of and researched. They are therefore very
convincing that with development in knowledge, technology interactions, more awareness, and
self-realization people have been able to manage the inner demons that motivated them to engage
in violence. Additionally, they have given them a new meaning to the value of life and
indispensable value of human race. Besides, they have learned new ways of resolving conflicts
and managing their anger. The conviction comes from the fact that it is through these drivers that
people learned different ways of interacting peacefully and valuing peace as compared to
violence (Armstrong, 2014). Things such as mass media, human right, trade, education allowed
them a new and advanced level of handling conflicts instead of approaching them violently.
The lecture, therefore, gives the student a moment to reflect back to where people have
come from and the significant changes that can come with the little things that usually happen
without our recognition such as the creation of a system of governance and education. The
lecture also reminds people of the importance of embracing a more rational way of handling
conflicts and learning from the past. Pinker doubts that many will believe that violence has
declined over the years, the gradual decreased is now visible and if human embraced the better
angels in this era of technological booming, the world might come to a period where violence
will be history and dialogue will be the way for conflict resolution (Surrey, 2014).
The themes and theories in global ethics and religion have a connection with Pinker’s
arguments. For instance, ahimsa which means nonviolence is associated with South Asian
traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism and is the same theme being promoted by Pinker.
Civil disobedience was breaking laws in a civil manner that maintained fidelity to the system of
justice and accepted punishment as an act of protest (Lennox & Gotthelf, 2011). According to
Pinker, without such government, it was hard to enforce the law on people against violence, and
they went against the legislation in the early periods.
Humanism is the orientation to human concerns and interests and according to Pinker; it
is one of the better angels as empathy where people care for one another. Secular ethics is a
friendly approach to ethics that locates ethical norms in nonreligious principles acceptable to
people from a variety of religions thus narrowing religious gaps and misunderstanding that led to
violence in the past. Secularization or modernization is the Movement away from a religious
culture that may promote violence and toward a nonreligious public sphere that embraces all life.
Religious groups were also a basis for violence in the past (Surrey, 2014).
In conclusions, Pinker talked about all the themes in one period or the other and the effect
it had on humans force. Though time has changed, the same ideas seem to the pillars of the
societies and foundations of ethics so that they guide people’s action.
Egoism as a reasonable or sound ethical theory
Egoism is a philosophical argument that one’s self is the motivation and the goal of their
work or an excessive sense of self-importance that dictates their actions focusing only on their
interests. Egoism has two primary variants descriptive and normative where descriptive is the
actual form agreeing with egoism; it affirms that egoism describes human affairs that they are
motivated by their desires and interests. Normative, on the other hand, maintains that though
people may be at present driven by their interests and desires, they should be motivated
differently by duty. The issue of altruism is also covered which is the opposite of egoism (Hills,
2012). Psychological egoism or the descriptive egoism disregards ethics and is wholly selforiented.
The proponent of this theory argue that people always act in their interest, and it cannot
be otherwise even when it seems that they are acting out of duty or to help others, it is only a
disguise, but the motivation is just self-interests. The opponents of the theory claim that it
disregards ethics by assuming that ethical behavior is regarding others and supports this with
many evidences. It, therefore, becomes a closed argument by turning towards analyzing moral
motivation, yet motivation is private and inaccessible. Psychological altruism maintains that all
human actions are others-centered and motivated. Interestingly, psychological egoism can be
said to have some altruism in it for instance in the case of a burning building, and a person walks
to save a kitten, it may be said to be a benevolent act but maintains that the choice to work was
because the person working wanted to do so (Lennox & Gotthelf, 2011).
The question of egoism as a reasonable or sound ethical theory has raised concerns even
in the past with many people. David Hume argues in his hypotheses that self-interest opposes
moral sentiments such as love, compassionate and friendship that ought to engage one into
concern for others and therefore motivate one’s actions for others. The other hypothesis is that
psychological egoism in attempts to simplify things reduces motivation to a single source which
is not the case. The third argument is that if animals can show concern for each other and act
intrinsically, why not humans? also, I cannot be without meaning that people act benevolently
for instance in cases of wishing others well even when there is no personal benefit to be
acquired, some other motivations other than self-interest do exist such as becoming famous or
seeking vengeance. Finally, the possibility of moral action still stands tall in all measures. The
choice of action usually results from conflicts egoism and altruism as exemplified in many works
such as the hunger game film.
The theory has shown some inconsistency due to conflict of interest where in a case of
scarcity everybody wants all for themselves which raises a need to share thus showing concern.
Additionally, the prisoner dilemma that has been discussed expresses the need to make choices
that have mutual benefits to reduce the penalty for each (Barbara MacKinnon, 2014). From the
moral point of view, egoism has to room as it is and goes hand in hand with altruism as
exemplified by two issues that even philosophers have not been able to deal. Must one take a
particular point of view to understanding things morally and is that point of view compatible
with egoism and secondly, are there self-interested reasons to be moral?
From a personal perspective, egoism as sound ethical theory is not true. This is because it
is moral to act and for the concern of others. Even if people should consider their personal
interest, they should not be so selfish as only to do that which is for their benefit but they should
incorporate the entire environment and make a choice that has maximum benefits on all.
Sometimes it is desirable to sacrifice personal interest for the sake of others and to perform
duties. Besides, there are many instances where people have engaged in benevolent actions
without any benefit on their side as it may be happening as dictated by concern for others.
Hence, altruism overtakes egoism on ethical considerations.
Egoism, self-interest, and social contract are inseparable when considering human
behavior, particularly when faced with survival situations (C D Broad, 2014). Egoism means
making choices that result in self-benefits without taking into account others the primary driver
to egoism is self-interest whereby own desires becomes the motivation for one’s actions and
choices they make. Considering that humans are social being that interacts with their
environment, they should have concern for others. It would be in agreement with legal systems
and take the action that benefits the society’s national self-interested individual. However, not all
individuals are rational, and therefore a consensus between egoism and rationalism has to be
struck, and this is what is called social contract. The three concepts, therefore, revolve around
and give sense to each other.
Armstrong, K. (2014). Fields of blood : religion and the history of violence. New York : Alfred
Barbara MacKinnon, A. F. (2014). Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issue. Cengage Learning.
C D Broad. (2014). Ethics and the History of Philosophy : Selected Essays. Hoboken: Taylor and
Hills, A. (2012). The beloved self : morality and the challenge from egoism. Oxford: Oxford
Lennox, J. G., & Gotthelf, A. (2011). Metaethics, egoism, and virtue : studies in Ayn Rand’s
normative theory. Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Surrey, F. (2014). Global ethics and moral responsibility : Hans Jonas and his critic. England ;
Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
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