The Moral Lives of Animals

The Moral Lives of Animals

by Dale Peterson
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The Moral Lives of Animals 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
nyauthoress More than 1 year ago
Do animals make moral choices that favor their own interests or the interests of others? Dale Peterson is the author of the award-winning Jane Goodall: the Woman Who Redefined Man, and is a lecturer in English at Tufts University. In the Acknowledgements of The Moral Lives of Animals, Peterson states that the idea for this book originated after a heated debate at a dinner party. In this era of sensitivity to animal rights, it is imperative that a book has been written arguing that animals have moral codes and intellectual capacities greater than previously thought. Wide in scope, The Moral Lives of Animals is chock full of references to scientific studies, personal travels to study animal behavior, philosophy and literature. Perceptions of whether animals think or feel pain the same as humans are examined thoroughly. The book is intellectual and esoteric. The Table of Contents contains no specific references to animals, but asks questions regarding morality applicable to humans as well. . Where Does Morality Come From? . What Is Morality? . Where Is Morality Going? Peterson states that animals have moral systems derived from a common origin to that of humans. Inherent in those systems are the ideas of conflict and choice. His writing seems disorienting. The author is obviously well-versed in his subject, but becomes lost in the quagmire of "making his point." He sets forth the structure of the book clearly at the beginning, but does not adhere to his own organizational system and flows from anecdote into intellectual dissertation. For example, Peterson plunges into an exploration of the medieval concept of "the mind" after stating that "executing an elephant for the crime of murder strikes us today as profoundly irrational." One wonders why the author used many depictions of animal cruelty to prove his points. Most disturbing to me were the descriptions of experiments where mice were injected with solutions causing pain in order to observe the sympathy of a non-injected partner mouse. How does the moral compass of the humans conducting the experiments compare to their animal subjects? The Moral Lives of Animals is a heavy read, but is an important contribution to the way we understand and perceive animals. Animal lovers beware. The book is not for the fainthearted. I thank Bloomsbury Press for supplying an advanced reader copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are unbiased and wholly my own. Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont