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The Moral Lives of Animals - cover

The Moral Lives of Animals

Dale Peterson

Publisher: Bloomsbury Press

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Summary

Wild elephants walking along a trail stop and spontaneously try to  protect and assist a weak and dying fellow elephant. Laboratory rats,  finding other rats caged nearby in distressing circumstances, proceed to  rescue them. A chimpanzee in a zoo loses his own life trying to save an  unrelated infant who has fallen into a watery moat.  The  examples above and many others, argues Dale Peterson, show that our  fellow creatures have powerful impulses toward cooperation, generosity,  and fairness. Yet it is commonly held that we Homo sapiens are the only  animals with a moral sense-that we are somehow above and apart from our  fellow creatures.  This rigorous and stimulating book challenges  that notion, and it shows the profound connections-the moral  continuum-that link humans to many other species. Peterson shows how  much animal behavior follows principles embodied in humanity's ancient  moral codes, from the Ten Commandments to the New Testament.  Understanding the moral lives of animals offers new insight into our  own.

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