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Pinker - Why the World is a Better Place Reading Notes (Short).docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Political Science
Paul Kingston

Pinker – Why the World is More Peaceful Notes Violence on the decrease (according to Pinker). hor·ti·cul·ture - the art or practice of garden cultivation and management. ag·ri·cul·ture - the science or practice of farming, including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products. pac·i·fism - the belief that any violence, including war, is unjustifiable under any circumstances, and that all disputes should be settled by peaceful means. au·to·crat·ic - of or relating to a ruler who has absolute power. Six major trends: 1. Transition from the anarchy of hunting/gathering and horticultural societies in which we spend most of history into the first agricultural civilizations (5000 years ago). Reduction in raiding and feuding as a result (fivefold decrease in violent death). 2. ‘Civilization Process’ that spanned half a millennium best documented in Europe between the late Middle Ages and twentieth century. Result of consolidation of feudal territories into large kingdoms with centralized authority and an infrastructure of commerce (tenfold-fiftyfold decrease in rates of homicide). 3. ‘Humanitarian Revolution’ saw the first organized movements to abolish socially sanctioned forms of violence such as absolute despotism, slavery, dueling, torture, superstitious killing and sadistic punishment. Stirrings of systematic pacifism. 4. After the end of World War II. Two centuries after we witness a historically unprecedented development, the great powers and developed states have stopped waging war on one another (decline in armed combat throughout t
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