The Moral Lives of Animals
Scientists have long counseled against interpreting animal behavior in terms of human emotions, warning that such anthropomorphizing limits our ability to understand animals as they really are. Yet what are we to make of a female gorilla in a German zoo who spent days mourning the death of her baby? Or a wild female elephant who cared for a younger one after she was injured by a rambunctious teenage male? Or a rat who refused to push a lever for food when he saw that doing so caused another rat to be shocked? Aren’t these clear signs that animals have recognizable emotions and moral intelligence? With Wild Justice Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce unequivocally answer yes.
Marrying years of behavioral and cognitive research with compelling and moving anecdotes, Bekoff and Pierce reveal that animals exhibit a broad repertoire of moral behaviors, including fairness, empathy, trust, and reciprocity. Underlying these behaviors is a complex and nuanced range of emotions, backed by a high degree of intelligence and surprising behavioral flexibility. Animals, in short, are incredibly adept social beings, relying on rules of conduct to navigate intricate social networks that are essential to their survival. Ultimately, Bekoff and Pierce draw the astonishing conclusion that there is no moral gap between humans and other species: morality is an evolved trait that we unquestionably share with other social mammals.
Sure to be controversial, Wild Justice offers not just cutting-edge science, but a provocative call to rethink our relationship with—and our responsibilities toward—our fellow animals.
Preface: Into the Wild
Chapter 1. Morality in Animal Societies: An Embarrassment of Riches
Chapter 2. Foundations for Wild Justice: What Animals Do and What It Means
Chapter 3. Cooperation: Reciprocating Rats and Back-Scratching Baboons
Chapter 4. Empathy: Mice in the Sink
Chapter 6. Animal Morality and Its Discontents: A New Synthesis
"Humans think of themselves as the only moral animals. But what about the elephant who sets a group of captive antelope free, the rat who refuses to shock another to earn a reward, and the magpie who grieves for her young? Cognitive animal behaviorist Bekoff and philosopher Pierce argue that nonhuman animals also are moral beings—with not just building blocks or precursors of morality but the real deal. The research gathered here makes a compelling case that it is time to reconsider yet another of the traits we have claimed as uniquely our own."