The Moral Lives of Animals
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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.
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
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
- Bloomsbury Publishing, March 2011
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