Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals

University of Chicago Press
3
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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.

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About the author

Marc Bekoff (http://literati.net/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 (www.jessicapierce.net) 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.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Aug 1, 2009
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Pages
208
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ISBN
9780226041667
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Science / General
Science / Life Sciences / Biology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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From eye-witness accounts of elephants apparently mourning the death of family members to an experiment that showed that hungry rhesus monkeys would not take food if doing so gave another monkey an electric shock, there is much evidence of animals displaying what seem to be moral feelings. But despite such suggestive evidence, philosophers steadfastly deny that animals can act morally, and for reasons that virtually everyone has found convincing. In Can Animals be Moral?, philosopher Mark Rowlands examines the reasoning of philosophers and scientists on this question--ranging from Aristotle and Kant to Hume and Darwin--and reveals that their arguments fall far short of compelling. The basic argument against moral behavior in animals is that humans have capabilities that animals lack. We can reflect on our motivations, formulate abstract principles that allow that allow us to judge right from wrong. For an actor to be moral, he or she must be able scrutinize their motivations and actions. No animal can do these things--no animal is moral. Rowland naturally agrees that humans possess a moral consciousness that no animal can rival, but he argues that it is not necessary for an individual to have the ability to reflect on his or her motives to be moral. Animals can't do all that we can do, but they can act on the basis of some moral reasons--basic moral reasons involving concern for others. And when they do this, they are doing just what we do when we act on the basis of these reasons: They are acting morally.
Wolves are some of the world's most charismatic and controversial animals, capturing the imaginations of their friends and foes alike. Highly intelligent and adaptable, they hunt and play together in close-knit packs, sometimes roaming over hundreds of square miles in search of food. Once teetering on the brink of extinction across much of the United States and Europe, wolves have made a tremendous comeback in recent years, thanks to legal protection, changing human attitudes, and efforts to reintroduce them to suitable habitats in North America.

As wolf populations have rebounded, scientific studies of them have also flourished. But there hasn't been a systematic, comprehensive overview of wolf biology since 1970. In Wolves, many of the world's leading wolf experts provide state-of-the-art coverage of just about everything you could want to know about these fascinating creatures. Individual chapters cover wolf social ecology, behavior, communication, feeding habits and hunting techniques, population dynamics, physiology and pathology, molecular genetics, evolution and taxonomy, interactions with nonhuman animals such as bears and coyotes, reintroduction, interactions with humans, and conservation and recovery efforts. The book discusses both gray and red wolves in detail and includes information about wolves around the world, from the United States and Canada to Italy, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Israel, India, and Mongolia. Wolves is also extensively illustrated with black and white photos, line drawings, maps, and fifty color plates.

Unrivalled in scope and comprehensiveness, Wolves will become the definitive resource on these extraordinary animals for scientists and amateurs alike.

“An excellent compilation of current knowledge, with contributions from all the main players in wolf research. . . . It is designed for a wide readership, and certainly the language and style will appeal to both scientists and lucophiles alike. . . . This is an excellent summary of current knowledge and will remain the standard reference work for a long time to come.”—Stephen Harris, New Scientist

“This is the place to find almost any fact you want about wolves.”—Stephen Mills, BBC Wildlife Magazine


Animals lead rich social lives. They care for one another, compete for resources, and mate. Within a society, social relationships may be simple or complex and usually vary considerably, both between different groups of individuals and over time. These social systems are fundamental to biological organization, and animal societies are central to studies of behavioral and evolutionary biology. But how do we study animal societies? How do we take observations of animals fighting, grooming, or forming groups and produce a realistic description or model of their societies?

Analyzing AnimalSocieties presents a conceptual framework for analyzing social behavior and demonstrates how to put this framework into practice by collecting suitable data on the interactions and associations of individuals so that relationships can be described, and, from these, models can be derived. In addition to presenting the tools, Hal Whitehead illustrates their applicability using a wide range of real data on a variety of animal species—from bats and chimps to dolphins and birds. The techniques that Whitehead describes will be profitably adopted by scientists working with primates, cetaceans, birds, and ungulates, but the tools can be used to study societies of invertebrates, amphibians, and even humans. Analyzing AnimalSocieties will become a standard reference for those studying vertebrate social behavior and will give to these studies the kind of quality standard already in use in other areas of the life sciences.
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