October 13, 2013
David Livingstone Smith, Ph.D., UNE professor of philosophy, was quoted in the Oct. 13th print edition of the Sunday New York Times in a story titled "Behind Flurry of Killing, Potency of Hate."
In the aftermath of the jihadist attack on a Nairobi mall, writer Katrin Benhold, in an interview with former Irish Republican Army paramilitary Sean O’Callaghan, explores the question of whether all humans have the potential to commit such violence.
In the discussion Benhold cites Smith's view that the most important ingredient of such violence may be the dehumanization of the victims. Smith is the author of Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others.
“Thinking about your enemies in subhuman categories is a way of creating a mental distance, of excluding them from the human family,” Smith said. “It makes murder not just permissive but obligatory. We should kill vermin or predators.” Read the entire story.
Smith is also the author of Why We Lie: The Evolutionary Roots of Deception and the Unconscious Mind. His book Less Than Human won the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf award for non-fiction.