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War, Peace, and Human NatureThe Convergence of Evolutionary and Cultural Views$
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Douglas P. Fry

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199858996

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199858996.001.0001

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Pinker’s List

Pinker’s List

Exaggerating Prehistoric War Mortality

Chapter:
(p.112) 7 Pinker’s List
Source:
War, Peace, and Human Nature
Author(s):

R. Brian Ferguson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199858996.003.0007

This chapter challenges the idea that deadly intergroup violence has been common enough in our species evolutionary history to act as a selection force shaping human psychological tendencies, toward either external violence or internal cooperation. Broken down, there are three related propositions: (a) war was ubiquitous throughout our species evolutionary history; (b) war is a natural expression of evolved tendencies toward deadly violence against individuals outside the social group; (c) war casualties were sufficiently high to select for behavioral tendencies conferring reproductive advantage in intergroup competition. For either (b) or (c) to be true, (a) must be true. However, archaeological evidence shows (a) to be false.

Keywords:   intergroup violence, evolution, evolutionary history, selection, cooperation, war

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