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Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animalsby Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"In a time when biological determinism, competition, and `red tooth and claw' views of animal and human behavior are so prevalent in both scientific and popular literature, Bekoff and Pierce offer a breath of fresh air. They provide ample evidence and a rational theory for the evolution and existence of cooperation, justice, empathy, and morality in social-living animals. This collaboration of a biologist and a philosopher has done a great service to the current understanding and future direction of the study of animal behavior." Robert W. Sussman, coeditor of The Origins and Nature of Sociality
"Wild Justice represents multi-disciplinary scholarship at its finest. All future collaborations between ethologists and philosophers will be measured against the high standard set by Bekoff and Pierce." Tom Regan, author of Empty Cages
"Cognitive ethologist Bekoff and philosopher Pierce explore the moral lives of such commonly studied animals as primates, wolves, household rodents, elephants, dolphins — and a few more uncommon critters as well....The authors contend that, in order to understand the moral compass by which animals live, we must first expand our definition of morality to include moral behavior unique to each species. Studies done by the authors, as well as experts in the fields of psychology, human social intelligent, zoology, and other branches of relevant science excellently bolster their claim." Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Marc Bekoff has published numerous books, including The Emotional Lives of Animals, and has provided expert commentary for many media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN, and the BBC.
Jessica Pierce has taught and written about philosophy for many years. She is the author of a number of books, including Morality Play: Case Studies in Ethics.
Table of Contents
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 5. Justice: Honor and Fair Play among Beasts
Chapter 6. Animal Morality and Its Discontents: A New Synthesis
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