The Evolution of Security: Revisiting the Human Nature Debate in International Relations
Despite being largely absent from formal arguments within IR, elements of evolutionary theory have such a strong presence in popular consciousness that they undoubtedly influence thinking about the political world. The first extensive use of evolutionary science to substantiate the classical realist view of human nature emerged only recently, with the invocation of the scientific branches of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology. As applied in IR, these arguments have sought to prove that violence, ethnocentrism, patriarchy and competition are natural features of the human experience, thus creating the need for finding effective responses to the ‘realities’ these truths impose. International relations as a scholarly field has been dominated by a paradigm which sees conflict and the disharmony of difference as an inevitable feature of human nature, and recent evolutionary arguments based on sociobiology have sought to reinforce this mode of thought. Accepting the ‘scientific’ argument that human nature is naturally violent, ethnocentric, and competitive, human nature promises to further entrench a conception of security which focuses on distinct, competitive groups defined by their differences and prone to war.