Cruelty: Human Evil and the Human Brain

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Oxford University Press, 2009 - Psychology - 337 pages
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Can international legitimacy operate even in a deformed balance of power, and when there is only one dominant state? Conventionally, hegemony has been perceived as a threat to international society. But how then is international order to be maintained, if this still requires a managerial role on the part of the great powers? IR theory has not taken that problem sufficiently seriously. This study makes a sharp distinction between primacy, denoting merely a form of material power, and hegemony, understood as a legitimate practice, and as giving rise to a form of social power. Adopting an English School approach, the author suggests hegemony be considered as one potential institution of international society, and hence as one possible mechanism of international order. The book reviews some relevant historical cases (the Concert of Europe, Pax Britannica, and Pax Americana) and argues that, instead of one model of hegemony, these represent several different variants: importantly, each displays its own distinctive legitimacy dynamics. Once these are appreciated, they can help us identify the possible institutional forms of hegemony in contemporary international society. This is done through three cases, examining in turn US policy on the UN Security Council, in East Asia, and on climate change. The overall argument challenges the limited post-Cold War debate about primacy, and the equally simplistic projections about the future distribution of power to which it gives rise. In doing so, it offers a major rethinking of the concept of hegemony in international relations.

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Cruelty: human evil and the human brain

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The criminal mind has always fascinated; in Cruelty, neuroscientist Taylor (Brainwashing) explores its scientific foundations with a technical analysis into why some humans act the way they do. While ... Read full review


Cruelty in Context
CHAPTER 1 What is cruelty?
CHAPTER 2 Quis judicat? Who decides?
CHAPTER 3 Why does cruelty exist?
CHAPTER 4 How do we come to act?
CHAPTER 5 How do we come to feel?
CHAPTER 6 How do we come to believe?
CHAPTER 7 Why are we callous?
CHAPTER 8 Why does sadism exist?
CHAPTER 9 Can we stop being cruel?

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About the author (2009)

Kathleen Taylor studied physiology and philosophy at Oxford University. She went on to do a research MSc at Stirling University, working on brain chemistry, before returning to Oxford to do a DPhil in neuroscience. She has written on a range of topics, from consciousness to the psychology ofwartime atrocities. In 2002 she won two writing competitions, one for science writing and one for an essay in the humanities/social sciences.

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