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Evolutionary Ethics, Aggression, and Violence: Lessons from Primate Research

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2021

Extract

This paper is unusual for this journal because most readers do not deal professionally with animals. Information from primatology, however, is relevant to consideration of violence between people. I will focus mainly on aggression and peacemaking among nonhuman primates, but will address related topics as well. I do not use the term “aggression” to refer only to violent behavior, but to any overt conflict between individuals. Although I am a professor of psychology, I am a biologist by training. When I was a student many years ago, the major scholarly work on this topic was Konrad Lorenz’s On Aggression. It set into motion contemporary research on aggression from a biological perspective by making the controversial claim that aggression is an instinct not only in animals, but also in human beings. My own research and that of others suggests a slightly different view, namely, that aggression between individuals is a last resort when conflict resolution fails.

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Article
Copyright
Copyright © American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics 2004

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References

Lorenz, K., On Aggression (London: Methuen, 1967).Google Scholar
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