Lerner Review of Pinker Appears in Claremont Review of Books

Steven Pinker's confidence that the waning of religion and embrace of secular reason, the safe harbor of powerful nation-states, and the effects of modern commerce and technology will promote human commonality and reduce violence is less an argument than an attitude, writes Professor Craig S. Lerner in the Claremont Review of Books.

In Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Pinker proposes that human beings are much less violent than they used to be and are likely to become even more peaceable in the future. Lerner examines Pinker's conclusion and offers evidence in contradiction of the author's premises.

"Steven Pinker depicts a world in which human rights are unanchored by a sense of the sacredness and dignity of human life, but where peace and harmony nonetheless emerge," Lerner writes. "It is a future—mostly relieved of discord, and freed from an oppressive God—that some would regard as heaven on earth. He is not the first and certainly not the last to entertain hopes disappointed so resolutely by the history of actual human beings."

Have a Nice Millenium, The Claremont Institute, April 16, 2012. By Craig S. Lerner.