Biologically determined aggression

Other Names:
Genetically determined violence
Violence determined by evolution
Instinctual violence
Neurophysiological compulsion to violence
Violence justified by science

In some very real sense violence is embodied in the human genetic/evolutionary legacy as is evidenced by its frequent manifestation in the human species as well as in others. Although the complex outcomes of the interactions of genetic predispositions with the social, ecological and cultural environments are themselves not embodied in the genetic makeup, nevertheless any violent species-specific behaviour is part of its evolutionary heritage to the extent that any such cultural heritage forms a continuum with the biological heritage.


In 1993, researchers from the Netherlands and the USA reported that in one large family they have linked a small genetic defect with impulsive, hostile and violent behaviour in the males. Those afflicted often reacted to the most mildly stressful occasions with aggressive outbursts, shouting at, cursing or assaulting the person they deemed a threat. At other times the men have committed arson, attempted rape and exposed themselves in public. In addition, their intelligence is on the low end of normal, with an average IQ of around 85 to 90. The abnormal behaviours are linked to the gene responsible for the production of monoamine oxidase-a, an enzyme which destroys neurotransmitters in the brain.


Violence lies in the animal brain and instincts of humanity. Physiological research has described many of its mechanisms, while the law, anticipating science, has in many countries recognized its involuntary nature, and exonerated certain crimes such as justifiable homicide (as in the case of self-defence) and some crimes of passion or even crimes avenging insulted dignity or 'honour'. War is a natural human instinct. Man is therefore condemned by biology to war.


Counter Claim:

It is incorrect to claim that war or any other violent behaviour has been genetically programmed. While genes are involved at all levels of nervous system function, they provide a developmental potential that can be actualized only in conjunction with the ecological and social environment. Except for rare pathologies, genes do not produce individuals necessarily predisposed to violence. Neither do the determine the opposite.

Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being
Date of last update
05.12.2017 – 13:26 CET