Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals by Frans de Waal Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals

To observe a dog’s guilty look.

to witness a gorilla’s self-sacrifice for a wounded mate, to watch an elephant herd’s communal effort on behalf of a stranded calf–to catch animals in certain acts is to wonder what moves them. Might there he a code of ethics in the animal kingdom? Must an animal be human to he humane? In this provocative book, a renowned scientist takes on

to witness a gorilla’s self-sacrifice for a wounded mate, to watch an elephant herd’s communal effort on behalf of a stranded calf–to catch animals in certain acts is to wonder what moves them. Might there he a code of ethics in the animal kingdom? Must an animal be human to he humane? In this provocative book, a renowned scientist takes on those who have declared ethics uniquely human Making a compelling case for a morality grounded in biology, he shows how ethical behavior is as much a matter of evolution as any other trait, in humans and animals alike.

World famous for his brilliant descriptions of Machiavellian power plays among chimpanzees-the nastier side of animal life–Frans de Waal here contends that animals have a nice side as well. Making his case through vivid anecdotes drawn from his work with apes and monkeys and holstered by the intriguing, voluminous data from his and others’ ongoing research, de Waal shows us that many of the building blocks of morality are natural: they can he observed in other animals. Through his eyes, we see how not just primates but all kinds of animals, from marine mammals to dogs, respond to social rules, help each other, share food, resolve conflict to mutual satisfaction, even develop a crude sense of justice and fairness.

Natural selection may be harsh, but it has produced highly successful species that survive through cooperation and mutual assistance. De Waal identifies this paradox as the key to an evolutionary account of morality, and demonstrates that human morality could never have developed without the foundation of fellow feeling our species shares with other animals. As his work makes clear, a morality grounded in biology leads to an entirely different conception of what it means to he human–and humane.
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    Bryn Hammond

    Jan 10, 2012

    rated it
    it was amazing

    If you’re going to read about animal intelligence – animal emotion – and onwards to animal ethics – oh, do start with Frans de Waal. He’s so sensible. He’s certainly not over-excitable (he’s a trifle under-excited for me) and you can trust him. Explore further, but drop your anchor in Frans de Waal, that’s my philosophy.
    And if you’re like me, the fact that animals, yes, have ethics, which are built out of emotion, changes how you see the world.

    Michael

    Oct 28, 2010

    rated it
    really liked it

    My follow up to Moral Minds. It presents a lucid, straightforward account of how our moral faculties may have evolved from our pre-human ancestors.

    I’ve been thinking about why I find this subject fascinating, and one reason is that this research challenges a fundamental notion of human nature advanced by some religions, which is that the humans are inherently sinful, and it is only by the grace of God that our sinful natures can be restrained or redeemed. There is a secular version of this view

    I’ve been thinking about why I find this subject fascinating, and one reason is that this research challenges a fundamental notion of human nature advanced by some religions, which is that the humans are inherently sinful, and it is only by the grace of God that our sinful natures can be restrained or redeemed. There is a secular version of this view as well, which holds that humans are beasts at heart whose basest instincts are held in check by a mere veneer of civilization. Take away our modern moral codes and laws and the beast quickly emerges.

    I find this to be a grim, depressing view of what it means to be human, one that has us constantly at war with our inner selves. It also makes no sense from an evolutionary perspective, since if civilization (or God) is all that keeps us from tearing each other apart, how could we (and our pre-human ancestors) have made it through the period before organized religions and systems of laws were developed? What would have held primitive human and pre-human groups together, and how would moral systems have ever emerged?

    The view advanced in this book is that our system of morals actually draws on deep-seated social instincts developed over millions of years of evolution culminating in the primates, and specifically us. Humans are, in fact, naturally “good” in the sense that we have all the basic elements to be moral citizens – such as the ability to empathize with others, the need and desire for close social bonds (with friends and mates), an acute sense of fairness, a willingness to share and help others with no conscious awareness of promoting the general good, the ability to feel shame in the face of the group’s disapproval. Elements like these have served an evolutionary purpose by promoting group cohesion, stability, and success. It is therefore more accurate to say that our moral codes were built upon a framework of innate moral capacities than that we owe our sense of right and wrong to those same codes.

    The author, a biologist, backs this up with much research on primates, and especially chimpanzees, our closest relatives. There is evidence in chimpanzee communities of quite evolved capacities such as sympathy for others’ distress, mourning the loss of a parent or child, and reciprocal altruism (doing favors for others with no immediate expectation of reward). There is no claim that chimpanzees have a moral code similar to ours, but it is possible to see how moral systems might have emerged from some of these basic elements.

    To be sure, there are always cheaters, and all societies deal with them through a system of punishment. They also reward good behavior by elevating the status of individuals who do good things – and all primates including humans are acutely conscious of status. There are also dysfunctional societies where what we think of as civilized legal systems have broken down, leaving anarchy. And yet, even in such dysfunctional environments (think Somalia), elements of our common moral heritage remain – parents love and care for their children, friends protect friends, tribe members look out for other tribe members – and crimes are generally directed at those perceived to be outside the group.

    What I like about this approach is that it gives us a rather more hopeful view of human nature. Yes, we need to fight against selfish and destructive impulses – but it’s in our nature to want to do good for our family and friends. This general view also explains far better why the overall arc of human development has been towards a gradual reduction of everyday brutality and the emergence of international standards of conduct. The more we communicate across groups and cultures, the more we feel part of one large group, and the more our innate moral faculties seem to apply to everyone.
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    Dev Scott Flores

    Good stuff!