Reasoning is the critical thinking skill concerned with the production of arguments: making them coherent, consistent, and well-supported; and responding to opposing positions where necessary. The Better Angels of Our Nature offers a step-by-step class in precisely these skills. Author Steven Pinker's central thesis is simple: mankind has become increasingly less violent over the centuries, and will continue to do so. Pinker is aware, though, that many people instinctively believe the opposite, and Better Angels is devoted to marshalling data to support and illustrate this central argument, as well as a series of secondary arguments about how and why humanity has become less violent. Pinker's interpretative skills – understanding the meaning of the complex evidence from history – are also on display throughout, as he tackles the ambiguities of his data, the problems it presents, and the viable inferences one can draw from it.
Table of Contents
Ways in to the Text
Who is Steven Pinker?
What does The Better Angels of Our Nature Say?
Why does The Better Angels of Our Nature Matter?
Section 1: Influences
Module 1: The Author and the Historical Context
Module 2: Academic Context
Module 3: The Problem
Module 4: The Author's Contribution
Section 2: Ideas
Module 5: Main Ideas
Module 6: Secondary Ideas
Module 7: Achievement
Module 8: Place in the Author's Work
Section 3: Impact
Module 9: The First Responses
Module 10: The Evolving Debate
Module 11: Impact and Influence Today
Module 12: Where Next?
Glossary of Terms
People Mentioned in the Text
Dr Joulia Smortchkova holds a PhD in social psychology from the Institut Jean Nicod (CNRS, ENS, EHESS), Paris. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum.