Wild Justice

  • by Marc Bekoff, Jessica Pierce
  • Narrated by Simon Vance
  • 6 hrs and 1 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.

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What the Critics Say

"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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Beguiling hypothesis, but is it true?

Do animals have a moral sense? I believe we seriously underestimate the sentience and mental capacities of most animals, so I welcome a book such as this, which challenges our anthropocentric prejudices. By making us think, it does a valuable service in raising our awareness.

The thesis seems sensible, that our own ethical sense might not have sprung fully formed out of nowhere, but have evolutionary antecedents in the animal world, especially among highly social animals. This is backed by experimental work described in the book, and numerous anecdotal observations in the wild, such as the mature female elephant who fended off an attack on a hurt female elephant by a younger male, and seemed to tend her wounds with her trunk, or the mouse who feeds and fetches water for another trapped and injured mouse.

However, it was when I tried to find references for some of the experiments that I began to get more skeptical. One that is oft quoted in the book, and echoed widely on the Internet is the alleged experiment where a hungry rat refuses to press a lever to get food, once he realises it causes another rat to receive an electric shock. No references are given in the book, nor in any of the sources quoting this experiment, and I cannot find any information as to the original published experiment. Is it just heresay? Other experiments are referenced, but raise further questions, such as the rat who first releases another caged rat, rather than obtain a piece of chocolate. Were they related, or mates, or total strangers? Were the rats naive or had they done this many times? How had they learned to obtain the chocolate or release the cage door?

The style of narration is clear, somewhat stentorian, and serious, and this is the nub for me. This is a book with a message, a manifesto, who's aim is to convince. What it lacks as a scientific work is a willingness to critique the evidence or search for other explanations than the thesis put forward. However, if it brings the end of inhumane animal experiments a day closer, it will have been worthwhile.
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- Jim Vaughan

Book Details

  • Release Date: 16-07-2010
  • Publisher: University Press Audiobooks