The Seville Statement on Violence was authored by a commission of social scientists from the international community in 1986. It addresses five key scientific misconceptions underpinning the so-called “theory of innate aggression:” the once popular (and still influential) argument that sought to confirm, through an inaccurate appeal to biology, that human beings are violent by nature. The scientists stated 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 that time (interestingly, mirror neurons were discovered two years after the Statement) many branches of science have discovered overwhelming evidence that the Statement was correct, that in fact we are, as neuroscientists sometimes say, ‘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.