The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


Fernanda Pirie on The Rule of Laws: A 4,000-Year Quest to Order the World — From ancient Mesopotamia to today, the epic story of how humans have used laws to forge civilizations

Rulers throughout history have used laws to impose order. But laws were not simply instruments of power and social control. They also offered ordinary people a way to express their diverse visions for a better world. The variety of the world’s laws has long been almost as great as the variety of its societies.

In this conversation, Shermer speaks with Oxford professor of the anthropology of law, Fernanda Pirie, who traces the rise and fall of the sophisticated legal systems underpinning ancient empires and religious traditions, showing how common people — tribal assemblies, merchants, farmers — called on laws to define their communities, regulate trade, and build civilizations. What truly unites human beings, Pirie argues, is our very faith that laws can produce justice, combat oppression, and create order from chaos.

Listen now

If you enjoy the podcast, please show your support by making a $5 or $10 monthly donation.


Abortion: The Case for Choice, Part 2

Part 2 of a 3-Part series on continuous thinking, conflicting rights, bodily autonomy, potential life v. actual life, and how to reduce unwanted pregnancies

For those seeking a sound scientific viewpoint


Be in the know!

Subscribe to eSkeptic: our free email newsletter and get great podcasts, videos, reviews and articles from Skeptic magazine, announcements, and more in your inbox once or twice a week.

Sign me up!

Copyright © 1992–2023. All rights reserved. | 3938 State St., Suite # 101, Santa Barbara, CA, 93105-3114 | 1-805-576-9396. The Skeptics Society is a non-profit, member-supported 501(c)(3) organization (ID # 95-4550781) whose mission is to promote science & reason. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Privacy Policy.