Human Nature and War

Basic Positions on Human Nature

  •  Static and Perverse
  • o Aggressive, Self-interested, and Anti-social nature
    o Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Freud
    o Stress on žoriginal sinÓ

  •  Static and Good
  • o Hampered by civilization, technology, and specific institutions
    o Rousseau, Anarchists, and Pacifists
    o Stress on repugnance at suffering of žsentient creaturesÓ

  • Plastic and Changeable
  • o Tendency toward evil and capacity for unlimited moral development
    o Many Religions and Marxism
    o Stress on ability to alter our social conditioning


    Evidence on Human Nature

  • Each Position Uses Empirical Evidence
  • o Insufficient
    o None Precludes Possibility of Others

  • 1st Position Now Appears as Conventional Wisdom or Taken for Granted Assumption
  • o Slogans
    o Movies
    o International Relations

  • 2nd & 3rd Positions (but not 1st Position) Are Consistent with a World Without War

    Individual Human Aggression

    Aggression with Injury = Violence

  • Distinction between aggression as an individual or as a representative of a group
  • o Latter may have little to do with the former
    o Appearance of aggression is not equivalent to feeling of aggression
  • Three Main Theories
  • o Biological
    o Psychological
    o Sociological

    Biological View

  • Lorenz (triggered), Freud (instinct of destruction) Audrey (territorial imperative), and Corning (evolutionary adaptiveness)
  • o Based on Animal StudiesProblematic
    o Causal StatusNot Clearly Sufficient or Necessary
    o Likely a Contributing Factor

    Psychological View

  • Hostility from Frustration

  • While Dollard Holds to Strong View, Berkowitz Sees as Contributing Factor

  • This View Makes Aggression More Manageable



    Sociological View

  • Social Conditioning (No Fixed Nature)

  • Watson, Skinner, Mead, Montagu, and Gorer

  • Suggests Environmental Factors May Be Sufficient