Conflict attracts a great deal of attention-as much or more than any other element of human life. People generally dislike it, and try to prevent and avoid it as much as possible. So why do clashes of right and wrong occur? And why are some clashes worse than others? In Moral Time, Donald Black shows how changes in intimacy (friends or strangers?), inequality (rich or poor?), and cultural diversity (Christian or Jew?) all determine when conflict happens. A reduction of closeness or a display of disrespect alters a relationship, for example, and the greater and faster the change, the more likely conflict will ensue. Throughout the book, Black applies his theory to an astounding range of human behavior, from bad manners to crime and warfare, accusations of witchcraft, racism, and anti-Semitism, conflict about creativity in science and art. Written in Black's trademark straightforward style, Moral Time is a powerful and incisive new take on conflict-a fundamental and inescapable feature of social life.
Donald Black is a University Professor of the Social Sciences at the University of Virginia. He is the author of six books, including The Behavior of Law, Sociological Justice (OUP 1989), and The Social Structure of Right and Wrong.