Morality for Cats and Dogs

Marc Bekoff presents the gist of his new book, Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, in a Daily Camera op-ed:

Do these examples show that animals display moral behavior, that they can be compassionate, empathic, altruistic, and fair? Yes they do. Animals not only have a sense of justice, but also a sense of empathy, forgiveness, trust, reciprocity, and much more as well.

The books comes out this spring. I look forward to reading it. But I have to wonder in advance, do animals only demonstrate two of Jonathan Haidt’s moral sensitivities? Are animals only concerned with fairness and preventing harm to others? You can observe in group/out group biases at the zoo. Perhaps liberal minded scientists aren’t wont to test and look for other moral sensibilities among all creatures great and small. Bekoff mentions some animal behavior that could be characterized as a concern with hierarchy and loyalty, though, again, it’s not clear whether this merely might making right. Is the idea of the sacred among these beasts too much anthropomorphism? Anyway, interesting stuff…


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