Ian Morris, Jean and Rebecca Willard Professor of Classics and Professor of History, Stanford University; Author, War! What Is It Good For?
Monday Night Philosophy ponders a paradox. If you had lived 20,000 years ago, you would probably have faced a 1-in-10 or even a 1-in-5 chance of dying violently. But by the 20th century AD — despite two world wars, the use of nuclear weapons and multiple genocides — that risk had fallen to 1-in-100 and it keeps going down. The explanation is uncomfortable: despite all its horrors, war itself has made the world a safer and richer place by creating larger societies that then pacify themselves internally. Morris looks at why this happened, how the patterns played out across the millennia and what their implications are for the 21st century.