Seville Statement on Violence

In 1986 a commission of social scientists from the international community in 1986 authored the Seville Statement on Violence. The Statement addresses five key scientific misconceptions that form the basis for the “theory of innate aggression,” the once popular and still influential argument that sought to confirm, through inaccurate use of biological research, that human beings are violent by nature. The Seville Statement on Violence states categorically that:

  • “It is scientifically incorrect to say that we have inherited a tendency to make war from our animal ancestors.”
  • “It is scientifically incorrect to say that war or any other violent behavior is genetically programmed into our human nature.”
  • “It is scientifically incorrect to say that in the course of human evolution there has been a selection for aggressive behavior more than for other kinds of behavior.”
  • “It is scientifically incorrect to say that humans have a ‘violent brain’.”
  • “It is scientifically incorrect to say that war is caused by ‘instinct’ or any single motivation.”

Since 1986 many branches of science have discovered evidence that the Statement is correct.  Interestingly, mirror neurons were discovered two years after the Statement was published.   The fact is that humans are, as neuroscientists have shown, wired for cooperation and empathy, to the extent that we are wired for anything.  The large amount of violence seen in societies today is caused not by our evolutionary inheritance but by our cultural conditioning.

Resources:

The Seville Statement on Violence – UNESCO