Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals

Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals

Language: English

Pages: 368

ISBN: 0674356616

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

To observe a dog's guilty look.

to witness a gorilla's self-sacrifice for a wounded mate, to watch an elephant herd's communal effort on behalf of a stranded calf--to catch animals in certain acts is to wonder what moves them. Might there he a code of ethics in the animal kingdom? Must an animal be human to he humane? In this provocative book, a renowned scientist takes on those who have declared ethics uniquely human Making a compelling case for a morality grounded in biology, he shows how ethical behavior is as much a matter of evolution as any other trait, in humans and animals alike.

World famous for his brilliant descriptions of Machiavellian power plays among chimpanzees-the nastier side of animal life--Frans de Waal here contends that animals have a nice side as well. Making his case through vivid anecdotes drawn from his work with apes and monkeys and holstered by the intriguing, voluminous data from his and others' ongoing research, de Waal shows us that many of the building blocks of morality are natural: they can he observed in other animals. Through his eyes, we see how not just primates but all kinds of animals, from marine mammals to dogs, respond to social rules, help each other, share food, resolve conflict to mutual satisfaction, even develop a crude sense of justice and fairness.

Natural selection may be harsh, but it has produced highly successful species that survive through cooperation and mutual assistance. De Waal identifies this paradox as the key to an evolutionary account of morality, and demonstrates that human morality could never have developed without the foundation of fellow feeling our species shares with other animals. As his work makes clear, a morality grounded in biology leads to an entirely different conception of what it means to he human--and humane.

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in mind. Once, when an infant had been bitten because it had accidentally landed on a dominant female, it screamed so incessantly that it was soon surrounded by many other infants. I counted eight climbing on top of the poor victim-pushing, pulling, and shoving each other as well as the infant. Obviously the infant's fright was scarcely alleviated; the response seemed blind and automatic, as if the other infants were as distraught as the victim and sought to comfort themselves rather than the

capacities that we employ all the time without taking too much pride in it-can be defined as the deliberate projection, to one's own advantage, of a false image of past behavior, knowledge, or intention. In its most complete sense, it requires awareness of how one's actions come across and what the outside world is likely to read into them. Chimpanzees may possess such awareness; their deceitful tactics have long been known by people who have raised them at home or worked with them in captivity.

is rare in rhesus, not uncommon in stump-tails and baboons, and ubiquitous in chimpanzees. Youngsters of the last species throw handfuls of dirt or pebbles at their elders, hit them with sticks, splash them with water, jump on their heads when they are dozing, and so on. Much of the time, the individual thus bothered takes it remarkably well, tickles the youngster, or makes a mock chase that turns the whole incident into a game. The individuals who cannot resist a hostile reaction are the ones

the hunt's completion. There is great commotion when a monkey has been caught; others may steal the prize during the flurry of excitement that follows. All the same, participation in a successful hunt usually leads to a payoff, whether directly from the captor's hands or from someone else's. When the entire group has settled down, the begging, whimpering, and waiting for scraps begins. Soon everyone is chewing meat and crunching bones. Chimpanzees seem to recognize a hunter's contribution to this

many times during his successful bid for alpha status, I speculated in Chimpanzee Politics that "it may have been accidental that Luit played Santa Claus on that first and later occasions, strewing food around for the group, but to me it immediately looked as if he had hit on a very clever way of drawing attention to himself."? Possibly, then, generosity serves political ends: food distribution may enhance an individual's popularity and status. If so, the ancient top-to-bottom arrangement remains

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