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.The book is published by The University of Chicago Press.
"Read this book, share it widely, and incorporate its lessons into your classroom, family room or board room." (Jane Goodall)
"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." (Sunday Telegraph)
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Beguiling hypothesis, but is it true?
- Jim Vaughan