Why is war acceptable?

  • Robert A. Hinde


War is terrible. Its horrors cannot be fully recaptured in retrospect, but everyone knows, with at least part of the mind, that war should be avoided if possible. Yet, with another part of the mind, most people accept war as a means of solving international or intranational disputes. Some even hold that occasional wars are inevitable because of the aggressiveness of human nature. This chapter is concerned not with the economic, political, or religious causes of war, but with why it is that people accept war as an acceptable way of solving conflicts. How can it happen that, while knowing what it means, political leaders can launch a country into war? Why do people flock to the colours? In what follows, three points are emphasized:
  1. 1

    -War depends on cooperation within groups. The behaviour of individuals in groups depends on basic human propensities.

  2. 2

    -Patriotism/Nationalism,an important contributor to war, also depends on basic human propensities.

  3. 3

    -International war is to be seen as an institution whose bases again depend on basic human propensities. Nevertheless it is an institution which could be undermined if the factors which support it were fully understood.



Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Group Loyalty Transport Worker Stereotypical Property Unholy Alliance 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert A. Hinde
    • 1
  1. 1.St John’s CollegeCambridgeUK

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