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Wild Justice
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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. With "Wild Justice", Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce unequivocally challenge this long-held view. 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. 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.
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While Darwin's theory of natural selection, which holds that species are engaged in a competitive and violent struggle for existence, is well known, less familiar is the concept that moral behavior (e.g., cooperation, empathy, and a sense of justice) has also evolved in many animal societies. Focusing here on the gentler side of animal natures, animal behaviorist Bekoff (ecology & evolutionary biology, emeritus, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder; Animals Matter) and philosopher Pierce discuss recent scientific studies documenting that great apes, monkeys, wolves, coyotes, hyenas, dolphins, whales, elephants, rats, and mice are capable of a wide range of moral behavior. They strongly urge the scientific and philosophical communities to recognize that these animals can act as moral agents within the context of their own social groups. This provocative and well-argued view of animal morality may surprise some readers as it challenges outdated assumptions about animals. The authors' intention, however, is not to unseat humans from their moral pinnacle but to uplift our animal kin into the moral realm. Written as much for other academics as for interested lay readers, this lucid book is highly recommended for animal behavior collections in university and large public libraries.-Cynthia Knight, Hunterdon Cty. Lib., Flemington, NJ Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

About the Author

Marc 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 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.

Reviews

"This provocative and well-argued view of animal morality may surprise some readers as it challenges outdated assumptions about animals.... Written as much for other academics as for interested lay readers, this lucid book is highly recommended." - Library Journal "The authors contend that, in order to understand the moral compass by which animals live, we must first expand our definition of morality to include moral behavior unique to each species. Studies done by the authors, as well as experts in the fields of psychology, human social intelligence, zoology, and other branches of relevant science excellently bolster their claim." - Publishers Weekly "Wild Justice makes a compelling argument for open-mindedness regarding nonhuman animals." - New Scientist "Humans think of themselves as the only moral animals. But what about... the rat who refuses to shock another to earn a reward, and the magpie who grieves for her young? Cognitive animal behaviorist Bekoff and philosopher Pierce argue that nonhuman animals also are moral beings - with not just building blocks or precursors of morality but the real deal. The research gathered here makes a compelling case that it is time to reconsider yet another of the traits we have claimed as uniquely our own." - Discover"

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