Pirates, Prisoners, and Lepers

Lessons from Life Outside the Law

Paul H Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson

It has long been a commonly shared wisdom that humans need government to bring social order to what would otherwise be a chaotic and dangerous world.
Publication date:
February 2016
Publisher :
Potomac Books, Inc.
Language:
English
Format Available     Quantity Price
Hardback
ISBN : 9781612347325

Dimensions : 230 X 150 cm
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£19.99
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Overview
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It has long been a commonly shared wisdom that humans need government to bring social order to what would otherwise be a chaotic and dangerous world. But recent thinking suggests that governmental law is not the wellspring of social order--after all, thousands of years ago early humans on the Serengeti Plain, surrounded by faster, stronger, and bigger predators, had no government or law yet produced the most successful species in the history of the planet. Presumably they found ways to cooperate and survive what was a harsh and forbidding environment.

Does modern man retain this same cooperative inclination, or has it atrophied in humans' modern conditions? Living Beyond the Law: Lessons from Pirates, Prisoners, Lepers, and Survivors mines the amazing natural experiments and accidents of modern human history: shipwrecks, plane crashes, leper colonies, pirate crews, escaped slaves, Gold Rush prospectors, prison uprisings, utopian hippie communes, Nazi concentration camps, and a host of other situations in which modern man has been thrown into a situation beyond the reach of law, to explore the fundamental nature of human beings and how we act when we don't necessarily have to behave.
History is rife with examples of how people perform when rules of civility collapse and here, Sarah and Paul Robinson explain that humans in such situations are neither devils nor angels. The real stories included in this book show that modern individuals naturally incline toward reasonable action, even in desperate conditions where survival is at issue. Applying insights from psychology, biology, political science, and social science to these historical and contemproary examples demonstrates that an innate cooperative spirit prevails only in the presence of a system to punish serious wrongdoing within the group and only when that punishment is perceived as just. Living Beyond the Law provides an optimistic picture of human nature--wherein humans are predisposed to be cooperative within limits--that is essential to understanding our contemporary society and to formulate modern criminal law and policy.