Animal Morality

A New Scientist book review:

Wild Justice makes a compelling argument for open-mindedness regarding non-human animals. It also argues that social behaviours such as cooperation provide evidence for a sophisticated animal consciousness. In particular, the authors propose that other animal species possess empathy, compassion and a sense of justice – in other words, a moral code not unlike our own. … They believe such codes are necessarily species-specific and warn against, for instance, judging wolf morals by the standards of monkeys, dolphins or humans. …

Bekoff and Pierce make their case by calling on a wide range of animal studies, from field biology to the laboratory and from the anecdotal to the statistical. … [In an] experiment, rats refused to push a lever for food when they realised their action meant another animal got an electric shock.

Some possible responses:

  1. Apparent animal "morality" isn't real morality, because it lacks human factor X.
  2. To the extent animal morality differs from human, animals are just wrong.
  3. Each species only intuitively knows what it is moral for that species to do.
  4. Creature have preferences and social norms; there is no further "morality."
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