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Socrates Exchange: Are human beings violent by nature?

Clover_1 via Flickr/Creative Commons

When we look at the nightly news or study history we might easily come to this conclusion. We have armies and police forces, lawyers and judges, in order to protect us from each other. Is all of this violence a result of something inherent in human nature or the human condition? Or is violence exacerbated by society, for example through violent entertainment or by encouraging competition in all aspects of life? Is it possible to imagine a world without violence? But, is violence always a bad thing? Think of all the examples where it seems that violence was instrumental in bringing about something positive: the American Revolution, the Civil War, or the Allied fight against the Nazis. On the other hand, would we be better off following the example of individuals like Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr., and practicing non-violence? In order to settle these questions it may be necessary to get a clear view of what we are talking about when we discuss violence. Can we define what we mean by violence?

Guest

  • Ed McGushin, professor of philosophy at St. Anselm College
Laura is well known in New Hampshire for her in-depth coverage of important issues and is widely regarded for her interviews with presidential hopefuls. Laura is a graduate of Keene High School in New Hampshire. Prior to hosting The Exchange, Laura worked in public radio in Washington, D.C. as a local reporter and announcer for WAMU and as a newscaster for NPR. Before her radio career, she was a researcher for USA Today's "Money" section, and a research assistant at the Institute for International Economics. Laura occasionally guest hosts national programs such as The Diane Rehm Show and Here and Now. In 2007 Laura was named New Hampshire Broadcaster of the Year by the New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters.
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