IT IS SCIENTIFICALLY INCORRECT to say that we have inherited a tendency to make war from our animal ancestors. Although fighting occurs widely throughout animal species, only a few cases of destructive intra-species fighting between organized groups have ever been reported among naturally living species, and none of these involve the use of tools designed to be weapons. Normal predatory feeding upon other species cannot be equated with intra-species violence. Warfare is a peculiarly human phenomenon and does not occur in other animals.

The fact that warfare has changed so radically over time indicates that it is a product of culture. Its biological connection is primarily through language which makes possible the coordination of groups, the transmission of technology, and the use of tools. War is biologically possible, but it is not inevitable, as evidenced by its variation in occurrence and nature over time and space. There are cultures which have not engaged in war for centuries, and there are cultures which have engaged in war frequently at some times and not at others.


Scientists have made many studies of animal behavior, including animal aggression. These studies were reviewed at Seville by Professor John Paul Scott, who has been one of the pioneers in this field of study.

The data reviewed at Seville lead to the conclusion that warfare is unique to humans. The inter-colony conflicts of ants, wolves, monkeys, and chimpanzees do not involve the use of tools, institutionalization, or verbal coordination of behavior, all of which are common to all human warfare. The behavior of animals has changed over time in the course of biological evolution. Human warfare, on the other hand, has changed in ways that are clearly due to cultural rather than biological evolution. Thus, in the relatively short time of recorded history, war has changed dramatically both in the nature of its military organization and in the nature of the weapons that are used.

The work at Seville was also guided by the studies of war that have been done by social scientists. As they have pointed out, the causes of international conflict and war are so complex that they need to be studied with a systematic and scientific analysis of the historical record. They cannot be reduced to only a few factors, whether biological or social. The Statement reflects the observation that war, unlike human biology, varies dramatically through time and across geography. People that make war in one century (like the Vikings, for example) may live at peace with their neighbors in another century.