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Primates and Philosophers : How Morality Evolved

by
ISBN13:

9780691141299

ISBN10:
0691141290
Format:
Paperback
Pub. Date:
1/12/2009
Publisher(s):
Princeton Univ Pr

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Summary

"It's the animal in us," we often hear when we've been bad. But why not when we're good? PRIMATES AND PHILOSOPHERS tackles this question by exploring the biological foundations of one of humanity's most valued traits: morality.In this provocative book, primatologist Frans de Waal argues that modern-day evolutionary biology takes far too dim a view of the natural world, emphasizing our "selfish" genes. Science has thus exacerbated our reciprocal habits of blaming nature when we act badly and labeling the good things we do as "humane." Seeking the origin of human morality not in evolution but in human culture, science insists that we are moral by choice, not by nature.Citing remarkable evidence based on his extensive research of primate behavior, de Waal attacks "Veneer Theory," which posits morality as a thin overlay on an otherwise nasty nature. He explains how we evolved from a long line of animals that care for the weak and build cooperation with reciprocal transactions. Drawing on both Darwin and recent scientific advances, de Waal demonstrates a strong continuity between human and animal behavior. In the process, he also probes issues such as anthropomorphism and human responsibilities toward animals.Based on the Tanner Lectures de Waal delivered at Princeton University's Center for Human Values in 2004,Primates and Philosophersincludes responses by the philosophers Peter Singer, Christine M. Korsgaard, and Philip Kitcher and the science writer Robert Wright. They press de Waal to clarify the differences between humans and other animals, yielding a lively debate that will fascinate all those who wonder about the origins and reach of human goodness.

Author Biography

Frans de Waal is C. H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior in the Department of Psychology, and Director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Center, both at Emory University. In 2007, "Time" magazine selected him as one of the 100 People Who Shape Our World. His books include "Our Inner Ape" (Riverhead) and "The Ape and the Sushi Master" (Basic Books), both "New York Times" Notable Books of the Year.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. ix
Morally Evolved: Primate Social Instincts, Human Morality, and the Rise and Fall of "Veneer Theory"p. 1
Anthropomorphism and Anthropodenialp. 59
Do Apes Have a Theory of Mind?p. 69
Animal Rightsp. 75
Comments
The Uses of Anthropomorphismp. 83
Morality and the Distinctiveness of Human Actionp. 98
Ethics and Evolution: How to Get Here from Therep. 120
Morality, Reason, and the Rights of Animalsp. 140
Response to Commentators
The Tower of Moralityp. 161
Referencesp. 183
Contributorsp. 197
Indexp. 201
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


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