Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved

Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved

by Frans de Waal
     
 

"Frans de Waal has achieved that state of grace for a scientist—doing research that is both rigorous and wildly creative, and in the process has redefined how we think about the most interesting realms of behavior among nonhuman primates—cooperation, reconciliation, a sense of fairness, and even the rudiments of morality. In these Tanner lectures and the

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Overview

"Frans de Waal has achieved that state of grace for a scientist—doing research that is both rigorous and wildly creative, and in the process has redefined how we think about the most interesting realms of behavior among nonhuman primates—cooperation, reconciliation, a sense of fairness, and even the rudiments of morality. In these Tanner lectures and the subsequent dialogue with leading philosophers and evolutionary psychologists, de Waal takes this knowledge to redefine how we think of morality in another primate, namely ourselves. This is superb and greatly challenging thinking."—Robert M. Sapolsky, author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers and A Primate's Memoir

"On the basis of a fascinating and provocative account of the remarkable continuities between the social emotions of humans and of nonhuman primates, de Waal develops a compelling case—which moral philosophers would do well to take seriously—for the evolutionary roots of human morality. In addition, he and his commentators conduct an illuminating discussion of some fundamental methodological and ethical issues—such as whether it is necessarily illicit to characterize animal behavior 'anthropomorphically,' and whether it is reasonable to attribute 'rights' to animals. Anyone who is interested in these issues, and especially those interested in the sources of human morality, will find this book exceptionally challenging and worthwhile."—Harry Frankfurt, author of On Bullshit

"Frans de Waal is the perfect guide to the emerging data on moral-like behavior in animals. Strengthened by deep sensitivity to the complexity of social relations and by a strong defense of anthropomorphism, this book shows how evolutionary biology can contribute to moral philosophy not merely through general principles, but by specific phylogenetic comparisons. It is a major advance in the socialization of ethology."—Richard Wrangham, Harvard University, coauthor of Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence

"Here, Frans de Waal, the world's leading researcher on primate behavior, a highly reflective thinker, and a skilled writer, presents the fruits of thirty years of empirical research. Addressing some of the most fundamental issues of social science and moral theory, he and the commentators produce a book that will be of deep and enduring interest to philosophers, social and political theorists, and anyone who wishes to assess their views about human nature and the nature of morality."—John Gray, London School of Economics, author of Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals

"This important book centers on Frans de Waal's powerful statement about the psychological nature of moral behavior, which involves strong continuities between humans and apes."—Christopher Boehm, University of Southern California, author of Hierarchy in the Forest

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691141299
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
01/12/2009
Series:
Princeton Science Library Series
Pages:
232
Sales rank:
617,372
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction by Josiah Ober and Stephen Macedo ix

PART I: Morally Evolved: Primate Social Instincts,Human Morality, and the Rise and Fall of "Veneer Theory" by Frans de Waal 1

Appendix A: Anthropomorphism and Anthropodenial 59

Appendix B: Do Apes Have a Theory of Mind? 69

Appendix C: Animal Rights 75

PART II: Comments: The Uses of Anthropomorphism by Robert Wright 83

Morality and the Distinctiveness of Human Action by Christine M. Korsgaard 98

Ethics and Evolution: How to Get Here from There by Philip Kitcher 120

Morality, Reason, and the Rights of Animals by Peter Singer 140

PART III: Response to Commentators: The Tower of Morality by Frans de Waal 161

References 183

Contributors 197

Index 201

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