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Virtuous Violence
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    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Watkins, Hanne M. and Laham, Simon 2018. The influence of war on moral judgments about harm. European Journal of Social Psychology,

    Watkins, Hanne M. and Laham, Simon M. 2018. The principle of discrimination: Investigating perceptions of soldiers. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, p. 136843021879627.

    Thomas, Ashley J. Thomsen, Lotte Lukowski, Angela F. Abramyan, Meline and Sarnecka, Barbara W. 2018. Toddlers prefer those who win but not when they win by force. Nature Human Behaviour, Vol. 2, Issue. 9, p. 662.

    Carnabuci, Gianluca Emery, Cécile and Brinberg, David 2018. Emergent Leadership Structures in Informal Groups: A Dynamic, Cognitively Informed Network Model. Organization Science, Vol. 29, Issue. 1, p. 118.

    Rai, Tage S. Valdesolo, Piercarlo and Graham, Jesse 2018. Reply to Fincher et al.: Conceptual specificity in dehumanization research is a feature, not a bug. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 115, Issue. 15, p. E3331.

    Mooijman, Marlon Hoover, Joe Lin, Ying Ji, Heng and Dehghani, Morteza 2018. Moralization in social networks and the emergence of violence during protests. Nature Human Behaviour, Vol. 2, Issue. 6, p. 389.

    Kim, Nam Kyu 2018. Revolutionary Leaders and Mass Killing. Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 62, Issue. 2, p. 289.

    Littman, Rebecca 2018. Perpetrating Violence Increases Identification With Violent Groups: Survey Evidence From Former Combatants. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 44, Issue. 7, p. 1077.

    Schein, Chelsea and Gray, Kurt 2018. The Theory of Dyadic Morality: Reinventing Moral Judgment by Redefining Harm. Personality and Social Psychology Review, Vol. 22, Issue. 1, p. 32.

    Piazza, Jared Sousa, Paulo Rottman, Joshua and Syropoulos, Stylianos 2018. Which Appraisals Are Foundational to Moral Judgment? Harm, Injustice, and Beyond. Social Psychological and Personality Science, p. 194855061880132.

    Ransford, Charles and Slutkin, Gary 2017. The Handbook of Homicide. p. 599.

    Rai, Tage S. Valdesolo, Piercarlo and Graham, Jesse 2017. Dehumanization increases instrumental violence, but not moral violence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, Issue. 32, p. 8511.

    Ramsay, Gilbert 2016. Dehumanisation in religious and sectarian violence: the case of Islamic State. Global Discourse, Vol. 6, Issue. 4, p. 561.

    Meindl, Peter Johnson, Kate M. and Graham, Jesse 2016. The Immoral Assumption Effect. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 42, Issue. 4, p. 540.

    Tsvetkova, Milena and Macy, Michael 2015. The Social Contagion of Antisocial Behavior. Sociological Science, Vol. 2, Issue. , p. 36.


Book description

What motivates violence? How can good and compassionate people hurt and kill others or themselves? Why are people much more likely to kill or assault people they know well, rather than strangers? This provocative and radical book shows that people mostly commit violence because they genuinely feel that it is the morally right thing to do. In perpetrators' minds, violence may be the morally necessary and proper way to regulate social relationships according to cultural precepts, precedents, and prototypes. These moral motivations apply equally to the violence of the heroes of the Iliad, to parents smacking their child, and to many modern murders and everyday acts of violence. Virtuous Violence presents a wide-ranging exploration of violence across different cultures and historical eras, demonstrating how people feel obligated to violently create, sustain, end, and honor social relationships in order to make them right, according to morally motivated cultural ideals.


‘With its wealth of eye-opening ethnographic and historical comparisons and its contrarian but well-argued analyses, this book is a fascinating exploration of violence and a major contribution to our understanding of the human condition.’

Steven Pinker

'Through compelling analyses ranging from primeval forms of human sacrifice to contemporary torture, ancient wars to medieval jousts, contact sports to gang fights, violent revolutions to suicide terrorism and mass murder, Virtuous Violence lays bare the moral motives for murderous passions, as a sort of evolutionary impetus to manage the interpersonal and intergroup interactions upon which societies depend, often aided by gods, spirits and abstract causes to which no creature but man is subject.'

Scott Atran - Directeur de Recherche, Anthropologie, CNRS/Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris and author of In Gods We Trust and Talking to the Enemy

'A provocative tour through the (long) world history of violence. You won’t think about violence and its many manifestations - or read a newspaper - the same way again.'

Dov Cohen - University of Illinois

‘It's so hard for us to think clearly about violence because acts of violence trigger such strong moral condemnation. Fiske and Rai strip the moralism out of our own minds and put it where it belongs - in the minds of the perpetrators, who usually think their acts are justified. This astonishing book offers a unified approach to understanding the most ghastly events, from street crime and honor killings through war crimes and genocide. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand and ultimately reduce violence.’

Jonathan Haidt - New York University Stern School of Business, and author of The Righteous Mind

‘It's not possible to have a clear understanding of the past, present or future of war, terrorism and torture without knowing the basic message of Virtuous Violence.’

Richard E. Nisbett - Distinguished University Professor, University of Michigan

'We have all watched movies where violent actions occur as part and consequence of social relations, and where the art of the movie consists of letting the audience share exactly the same emotions and motives that make that violence inevitable and feel right. At the same time, the mainstream social psychological arguments rarely pick up on these motives. This book provides a powerful argument in favor of scientifically considering these causes of violence. It is a scientifically important book, which touches on many issues we are concerned about as citizens, and will surely attract much attention and discussion as well as hopefully influencing future work in the social and behavioural sciences on this topic.'

Thomas Schubert - University of Oslo

‘The authors of this exciting book convincingly show that most individuals and groups engage in violence believing that what they do is right, moral and even obligatory. This well-written book shows the great challenge of preventing such righteous violence, and provides the knowledge base to engage with this challenge.’

Ervin Staub - author of The Roots of Evil; The Psychology of Good and Evil and Overcoming Evil

‘Virtuous Violence settles the question of whether violence is a rational act or an expressive gesture triggered by the emotions. Morally motivated violence, the authors explain, is based on emotional experience. But while emotions may be acted on impulsively, there is no reason why a moral stance cannot be arrived at logically and pursued with careful planning. This solution is much more intellectually satisfying than the binary division of one versus the other, and means that the message of the book may be reconciled with the work of diverse theorists.’

David Mansley Source: Theoretical Criminology

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