Why We Fight: The Evolutionary Psychology of Warfare

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A lecture on recent advances in our understanding of how the brain has evolved, and a demonstration of how this offers a new way to look at conflict.

From the pursuit of social status and belonging, to the rationalisation of violence through mechanisms such as morality, religion and shared ideology, this lecture will explore recent advances in the cognitive sciences, and demonstrate their applicability to our understanding of conflict.

Drawing on his experience as a soldier, and as a scholar of biology and conflict, Dr Mike Martin will show how these insights completely change the way we view conflict and conflict resolution, terrorism and counter terrorism, and peace and war.

Speaker Biography


Dr Mike Martin is a former British Army officer who pioneered, designed and implemented the British Military’s Cultural Advisor programme. During this period, he also worked as an advisor to four commanders of the UK’s Task Force Helmand, advising them on local national population dynamics. Mike subsequently read for his PhD at King’s College London in War Studies (his undergraduate degree was Biological Sciences at Oxford). He wrote an oral history of the conflict in Helmand province, Afghanistan from 1978-2012, which he later turned into a critically-acclaimed book, An Intimate War (published by Hurst/OUP). His latest book is called Why We Fight.


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