Peace-Loving Primates

By Staff
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There’s no shortage of justifications for the wars that soil human history. In the documentary The Fog of War, former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara makes the case for “just war” theory as a realistic means of reducing war’s human costs. Just war, he believes, should be our goal, because war itself won’t be eliminated in this century.

A recent article in Discover gives the idea of war’s inevitability a second glance. Many scientists believe conflict between primates is a natural activity, an attempt to keep the resources-to-population ratio within reasonable bounds. Discover reports that a group of scientists and anthropologists are upending this aggression-is-destiny view with research showing that  primates are not hardwired to commit violence; rather, they do so in response to environmental and social stimuli. “War is evitable,” one scientist argues, “if conditions are such that the costs of making war are higher than the benefits.”

Morgan Winters

Image by Rob, licensed under Creative Commons

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