Cognitive ethologist Bekoff (The Emotional Lives of Animals) and philosopher Pierce (Morality Play) explore the moral lives of such commonly studied animals as primates, wolves, household rodents, elephants, dolphins-and a few uncommon critters as well. Citing too few examples (though the authors say that the more we look, the more we'll see) and too many term definitions, this book presents studies of rats refusing to obtain food if it means hurting another rat; the care given by chimpanzees to a chimp stricken by cerebral palsy; and comfort offered to grieving elephants by members of the same herd. 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 intelligence, zoology and other branches of relevant science excellently bolster their claim. (May)
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One of the most fascinatingand readableacademic books of the year, this groundbreaking study gathers together some remarkable research about the way animals can show compassion and empathy and even have a sense of fair play.
"The authors write as though they are having a conversation with the reader. . . . This well-thought-out, provocative work will give scientific and lay readers plenty of examples to rethink and open new paths of research into the lives and minds of animals."
"Do animals feel empathy for each other, treat one another fairly, cooperate toward common goals, and help each other out of trouble? In short, do animals demonstrate morality? Bekoff and Pierce answer with an emphatic 'yes!' in this fusion of animal behavior, animal cognition, and philosophy. The authors discuss the sense of fair play and justice in nonhuman animals. Social animals form networks of relationships, and these relationships rely on trust, reciprocity, and flexibility—just as they do in humans. Calling these behaviors morality, the authors present evidence that morality is an adaptive strategy that has evolved in multiple animal groups. Basing their argument for animal morality on published research (listed in the generous bibliography) and anecdotal evidence, the authors group moral behaviors into three clusters: cooperation, empathy, and justice, each of which is discussed in turn. A final chapter is a synthesis of moral behavior and philosophy, suggesting areas for further study and discussion. The conversational tone and numerous illustrative examples make this an excellent introduction to a new science."
Wild Justice makes a compelling argument for open-mindedness regarding non-human animals. . . I think they’ve hit the right note here in trying to further discussion of a provocative thesis.”
"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."
As dense with information as this book is, it remains readable by nonscientists, and its philosophical implications reach far beyond scientific confines.
“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.”
“As a child I learned that behaving fairly, during play with others, was a very important social rule. As a mother, I learned that treating my child fairly was key in building his trust and cooperation. And we find that fairness plays an important role in the social interactions of many different animals and is key in developing and maintaining friendships. Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce's ideas about the moral lives of animals stress the significance of fairness, cooperation, empathy, and justice, aspects of behavior desperately needed in the world today. Read this book, share it widely, and incorporate its lessons into your classroom, family room or board room.”
"One of the most fascinating--and readable--academic books of the year, this groundbreaking study gathers together some remarkable research about the way animals can show compassion and empathy and even have a sense of fair play."
Robert W. Sussman
“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.”
“Wild Justice makes a compelling argument for open-mindedness regarding non-human animals. . . I think they’ve hit the right note here in trying to further discussion of a provocative thesis.”
Dale W. Jamieson
“Over the last generation animals have increasingly come to be seen as objects of moral concern rather than mere things that can be used for our purposes. Building on the work of other scientists and philosophers, Bekoff and Pierce challenge us to go further and to see animals, not just as creatures who can be treated unjustly, but as themselves dispensers of ‘wild justice.’ Not everyone will agree, but their provocative challenge must be addressed.”
“Bekoff and Pierce have managed to convince this initial sceptic that, at the very least, they have a strong case backed by compelling evidence. . . . As a result of reading Wild Justice I know a lot more than I did. I will never be able to look at a dog or a cat, or a cow or a coyote for that matter, in the same way again.”
"As dense with information as this book is, it remains readable by nonscientists, and its philosophical implications reach far beyond scientific confines."
While Darwin's theory of natural selection, which holds that species are engaged in a competitive and violent struggle for existence, is well known, less familiar is the concept that moral behavior (e.g., cooperation, empathy, and a sense of justice) has also evolved in many animal societies. Focusing here on the gentler side of animal natures, animal behaviorist Bekoff (ecology & evolutionary biology, emeritus, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder; Animals Matter) and philosopher Pierce discuss recent scientific studies documenting that great apes, monkeys, wolves, coyotes, hyenas, dolphins, whales, elephants, rats, and mice are capable of a wide range of moral behavior. They strongly urge the scientific and philosophical communities to recognize that these animals can act as moral agents within the context of their own social groups. This provocative and well-argued view of animal morality may surprise some readers as it challenges outdated assumptions about animals. The authors' intention, however, is not to unseat humans from their moral pinnacle but to uplift our animal kin into the moral realm. Written as much for other academics as for interested lay readers, this lucid book is highly recommended for animal behavior collections in university and large public libraries.