The Decline of Violence is Surely a Good Thing

Bill Phillips


Despite the widespread belief that the world grows increasingly violent, Steven Pinker's 2011 volume The Better Angels of Our Nature convincingly argues that the opposite is true. Tracing the history of humanity from its origins to the present day, Pinker shows how violence has declined, and that strong, stable government is the principal reason for this happening. The book briefly touches on the way literature may play a part in the reduction of violence through the transmission of empathy – the way in which stories about other people, even fictional people, teach us to comprehend more closely our fellow human beings. This article expands on Pinker's assertion and suggests that violence has also declined in literature, or become increasingly unacceptable to the point of rejection.


violence; Steven Pinker; history; literature

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