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.
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-Universitat Bochum.
Ways in to the text Who was Joulia Smortchkova? 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 Works Cited