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The Better Angels of Our Nature

Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker gives a history of the trajectory of human freedom, from the brutal kingdoms and empires of antiquity to the present day, where despotic regimes are becoming an exception to the rule. While he acknowledges that human freedom is temporarily stagnating, he also demonstrates that historical trends are massively in favor of an increase in freedom and human rights. He argues that while “human rights”is an unnatural concept, modernity is nonetheless steering us in their direction with the help of expanded communications, increased education, and the spread of reason.

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