Wild elephants walking along a trail stop and spontaneously try to protect and assist a weak and dying fellow elephant. Laboratory rats, finding other rats caged nearby in distressing circumstances, proceed to rescue them. A chimpanzee in a zoo loses his own life trying to save an unrelated infant who has fallen into a watery moat.
The examples above and many others, argues Dale Peterson, show that our fellow creatures have powerful impulses toward cooperation, generosity, and fairness. Yet it is commonly held that we Homo sapiens are the only animals with a moral sense-that we are somehow above and apart from our fellow creatures.
This rigorous and stimulating book challenges that notion, and it shows the profound connections-the moral continuum-that link humans to many other species. Peterson shows how much animal behavior follows principles embodied in humanity's ancient moral codes, from the Ten Commandments to the New Testament. Understanding the moral lives of animals offers new insight into our own.
About Dale PetersonSee more books from this Author
Sharing fascinating anecdotes about elephants, whales and primates, Peterson highlights the unity rather than diversity of social structures around sharing food, intimacy, competition for resources, grooming, mourning and dominance.| Read Full Review of The Moral Lives of Animals
A book review in the Wall Street Journal of a new book called The Moral Lives of Animals (by Dale Peterson) highlights the ongoing threat to human exeptionalism posed by those who are working to erase the moral boundaries between us and fauna.Mar 12 2011 | Read Full Review of The Moral Lives of Animals
My collection of linked short stories, In an Uncharted Country (Press 53, 2009), won the Maria Thomas Fiction Award and a Gold Medal (IPPY) from Independent Publisher.Jun 03 2011 | Read Full Review of The Moral Lives of Animals
Animals have minds, he claims, and those minds are capable of complex moral decision making, but humans are not often able to credit animals with moral actions because our minds operate so differently.Mar 16 2011 | Read Full Review of The Moral Lives of Animals
Peterson is examining morality in animals, but his point — my paraphrase — is striking and ironic: animals are not only moral, but perhaps more so than humans.Jun 07 2011 | Read Full Review of The Moral Lives of Animals
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