Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved

Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved

Frans de Waal Stephen Macedo Josiah Ober / Jan 22, 2020

Primates and Philosophers How Morality Evolved 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 v

  • Title: Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved
  • Author: Frans de Waal Stephen Macedo Josiah Ober
  • ISBN: 9780691124476
  • Page: 160
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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, emp 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 Philosophers includes 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.The University Center for Human Values Series.

    Primates and Philosophers How Morality Evolved The Sep , Fulfillment by FBA is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in s fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for Primates and Philosophers How Morality Evolved Princeton Frans de Waal defends against philosopher critics his view that the roots of morality can be seen in the social behavior of monkeys and apes H e argues that human morality would be impossible without certain emotional buildings blocks that are clearly at work in chimps and monkey societies War, The Philosophy of Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy The Philosophy of War Any philosophical examination of war will center on four general questions What is war What causes war What is the relationship between human nature and war Animal Rights Philosophers on Animal Habitat, Part One Jul , Animal Rights Philosophers on Animal Habitat, Part One Tom Regan In many formulations of vegan ethics, domestication is considered an inherently exploitative arrangement It turns animals into doting Animal cognition Animal cognition describes the mental capacities of non human animals and the study of those capacities The field developed from comparative psychology, including the study of animal conditioning and learning.It has also been strongly influenced by research in ethology, behavioral ecology, and evolutionary psychology, and hence the alternative name cognitive ethology is sometimes used. Against Empathy Boston Review Sep , Against Empathy from Boston Review Most people see the benefits of empathy as too obvious to require justification. Peter Singer Peter Albert David Singer, AC born July is an Australian moral philosopher He is the Ira W DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and a Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne.He specialises in applied ethics and approaches ethical issues from a secular, utilitarian perspective. Frans de Waal Moral behavior in animals TED Talk What happens when two monkeys are paid unequally Fairness, reciprocity, empathy, cooperation caring about the well being of others seems like a very human trait But Frans de Waal shares some surprising videos of behavioral tests, on primates and other mammals, that show how many of these moral traits all of us share. There s no philosophy of life without a theory of human Apr , A strange thing is happening in modern philosophy many philosophers don t seem to believe that there is such a thing as human nature What makes this strange is that, not only does the new attitude run counter to much of the history of philosophy, but despite loud claims to the contrary it also goes against the findings of modern science. Energy and the Human Journey Where We Have Been Where We The table below presents an abbreviated geologic time scale, with times and events germane to this essay Please refer to a complete geologic time scale when this one seems inadequate.

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      • Frans de Waal Stephen Macedo Josiah Ober

        Frans B.M de Waal, PhD born 29 October 1948, s Hertogenbosch , is a Dutch psychologist, primatologist and ethologist He is the Charles Howard Candler professor of Primate Behavior in the Emory University psychology department in Atlanta, Georgia, and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and author of numerous books including Chimpanzee Politics and Our Inner Ape His research centers on primate social behavior, including conflict resolution, cooperation, inequity aversion, and food sharing In 1993, he was elected to the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, to the United States National Academy of Sciences in 2004, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 2008.In 1977, de Waal received his doctorate in biology from Utrecht University after training as a zoologist and ethologist His dissertation research concerned aggressive behavior and alliance formation in macaques.In 1975, de Waal began a six year project on the world s largest captive colony of chimpanzees at the Arnhem Zoo The study resulted in many scientific papers, and resulted in publication of his first book, Chimpanzee Politics, in 1982.In 1981, he moved to the United States for a position at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, and took his current position at Emory and the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in 1991.His research into the innate capacity for empathy among primates has led de Waal to the conclusion that non human great apes and humans are simply different types of apes, and that there is little difference between these species.His book, Our Inner Ape, examines human behavior through the eyes of a primatologist, using the behavior of common chimpanzees and bonobos as metaphors for human psychology.De Waal was named one of Time magazine s most influential 100 people in 2007.De Waal also works in the field of social psychology De Waal is currently on the Editorial Board of Greater Good Magazine, published by the Greater Good Science Center of the University of California, Berkeley His contributions include the interpretation of scientific research into the roots of compassion, altruism, and peaceful human relationships Besides being a contributor, de Waal, also has an article on Empathy in Greater Good magazine He further writes a column for Psychologie, a popular Dutch monthly magazine enpedia wiki Frans_de


    1. From a blog I wrote early on in my reading of this book (I'll be writing more about the rest later on):"Climbed to the Highest Point on the Tree and the Empathy Therein" I'm reading a book right now that's quite impressive called Primates & Philosophers by the primatologist Frans de Waal which is mostly about the evolution of morality. The book is finished with a series of exchanges between philosophers (like Peter Singer for instance) so basically like a conversation in essay form about the [...]

    2. Richard Dawkins and others have fallen into the trap that somehow Biological Evolution leads to Social Darwinism. In the same vein, these biologists claim that morality is a construct unique to humans and we use it to counter our selfish animal tendencies. Animals less sophisticated than humans allegedly allow natural selection to take out the weak. Not only is the quote "Survival of the Fittest" mis-attributed to Darwin, but so is the concept of such brutal views of natural selection. De Waal i [...]

    3. De Waal sets up his ethical argument by describing what he calls veneer theory: humans are basically bad (self-oriented), and civilized behavior is superficial and fragile. De Waal’s theory in contrast is that we are by nature good. Drawing from his work with primates, he anchors moral behavior in our natural inclinations and desires. (1) To this De Waal adds a cognitive layer, empathy, which enables us to “adopt the other’s viewpoint,” leading us to assist others by following golden rul [...]

    4. Frans de Waal windt er in zijn Tanner lectures geen doekjes om: menselijke moraliteit is een proces van evolutie. En zo komt de Waal tot een opmerkelijk uitgangspunt: ‘Humans are by nature good’. Met deze stelling betreedt de Waal het gladde ijs van de filosofie, waar hij op het domein van de moraal wetenschappelijke argumenten tracht te poneren om deze stelling te onderbouwen. De hamvraag blijft natuurlijk of de Waal het speculatieve van de filosofie weet te overstijgen. De benaming van het [...]

    5. I consider this book more appropriate for scholars than the lay person. I just finished reading a book about the same subject: The Quest of a Moral Compass by Keenan Malik, and the author does not mention primates nor any other animal, his quest took a different path altogether, he looked in the Bible, in Religion and Philosophy, no wonder he could not find any morality there, anyone that reads the history of the Popes gets the message very clear, they were not guided by morality.My feeling is t [...]

    6. Primates and Philosophers is offering us to analyse the origins of morality, but focuses on one of the subject: whether human morality goes deep into our evolutionary past or is new with the arrival of our evolving brains and cultures. The answer depends on how morality is defined.

    7. This is an interesting book that deals with the question of whether morality is inherent in primates. The author cites humans, bonobos, and dolphins as capable of moral behavior. Chimpanzees, on the other hand, have no sense of morality, and one particularly rascal female chimp at his primate research center will see visitors, go get a mouthful of water from a spigot, then spray the visitors from her mouth. Clearly no morality there. On the other hand, I once wrote a story on two dolphins in Haw [...]

    8. A slow and dense read but a fantastic primer that I would use if I were ever to teach a Normative Philosophy class. Throughout the book, de Waal presents 5 essays and rebuttals by other prominent thinkers. This creates a nice balance to the analysis of morality - specifically traits we think are very unique such as altruism and empathy. In general the conclusion is that we are not as unique in terms of moral characteristics as we like to think and more importantly how we define morality is mostl [...]

    9. When one of Kim Stanley Robinson’s characters in Green Earth talks about humans being from the savanna, that sounds familiar because of I’ve read quite a lot of Frans De Waal, probably the most prominent primatologist alive. His Chimpanzee Politics (1982) was revolutionary for the field. To me, the biological outlook proved to be a revelation and still is something that’s liberating when talking about ethics, behavior and society. At the same time he proves time and time again that the gap [...]

    10. Are human beings capable of good behavior 'out of the box', or do we require a lengthy 'education' on the importance of behaving in socially acceptable ways before engaging in such behavior? And related to, and in some sense underlying this question: why we are here? What is life's purpose? Are we alive simply because (as The Selfish Gene seems to teach us) our genes needed a medium to allow them to reproduce? Are we no more than utility optimizers, who are constantly calculating how to act in o [...]

    11. Are we born with morality? or the morality is learned and passed down as part of cultures?This is a very interesting question discussing in this book. de Waal brought up why Veneer theory (he is against; "a cultural overlay, a thin veneer hiding an otherwise selfish and brutish nature".The idea of the veneer theory goes back to Thomas Henry Huxley) is not fitting in his ideas. 3 levels of morality.1. moral sentiment: also exists in other primates.2. Social pressure: less systematic in other prim [...]

    12. What is the source of our goodness? Is goodness against our bare nature, merely a veneer laid over a bad natural core? Or is it, on the contrary, a deeply rooted trait of our nature, a by-product of evolution through natural selection? Frans De Waal opens with arguments based on his studies of the social behavior of primates such as chimpanzees and bonobos. Then a bunch of philosophers, such as Peter Singer and Robert Wright, helps clarifying this issue of morality and its evolution. The dialect [...]

    13. Taking the ethics and morality studies from the hands of philosophers into biologists.The book argues around multiple cores, mostly about whether animals have evolved enough moral system to be humanized, intentionally ethical and has planning strategic, or animals behavior is governed by instinctive impulses away from mindful actions.What’s great about this book is that it’s including multiple scholar’s opinions against De Waal’s “Veneer Theory” which is the argument that morality is [...]

    14. El reconocido primatólogo Frans de Waal lleva más de cuarenta años investigando a nuestros parientes animales más cercanos, y poco a poco fue descubriendo que nuestras conductas morales no nos vienen impuestas desde arriba por un ser sobrenatural, sino fueron construidas desde abajo en un continuo evolutivo con nuestros antepasados primates.Este libro se basa en unas conferencias ofrecidas por el autor en 2004, a las cuales se agregaron comentarios de algunos de sus colegas, respondidos al f [...]

    15. De Waal has a very interesting outset to explain human morals. The editor states in the beginning that De Waal is not interested to debate those who argue that morals has a divine origin. And it is obvious that the main focus in this book is to debutt what he has named the Veneer Theory. De Waal shows that there certainly are similarities between how the greater apes acts and how human acts. He is in a way able to explain altruism in a way that I find is lacking in for example Dawkins. He is arg [...]

    16. An interesting book with enlightening cross-disciplinary dialogues, but I would have liked to have seen more attention to:1) The primacy of affect in moral judgment, and its evolutionary continuity. Frans de Waal discusses only one study, involving fMRI scans of subjects contemplating "trolley problems". Many of De Waal's critics' objections to his thesis center on our species' ability to make cognitive moral judgments. I felt the book largely ignored the fact, attested to by a rich and expandin [...]

    17. Primates and Philosophers, or how you should think of morality on the 21st century. This could as well be the title of this book. For, as de Waal states in the conclusion of this work "The debate with my colleagues made me think of Wilson’s (1975: 562) recommendation three decades ago that 'the time has come for ethics to be removed temporarily from the hands of philosophers and biologicized.'" (2006) So there you have. You can either go by the moralists who believe that morality is only a hum [...]

    18. This book contains a paper by Dutch primatologist Frans de Waal, arguing that morality is more genetically rooted and continuous between humans and other animals than has usually been held by what he considers the mainstream among people such as Thomas Huxley and Richard Dawkins (whom he calls "veneer theorists"--holding that morality is a cultural veneer laid on a fundamentally "selfish and brutish" nature). Frans de Waal's paper is followed by a series of critical responses by other philosophe [...]

    19. Are we basically selfish and hard-wired for competition? Are our morals just a thin layer on an essentially amoral human nature? Or is morality and cooperative behaviour a natural trait, something that we need in order to survive as a social species? How about apes and other animals, do they have morals? De Waal discusses these and other questions in Primates and Philosophers. The book is based on a number of lectures he gave at Princeton, and then there are four philosophers reacting to his arg [...]

    20. Although it took me forever to finish it, I really enjoyed this book. Despite DeWaal's credentials as a preeminent primatologist, this is NOT an animal book but rather a philosophical work about human morality, not that animals and science do not feature heavily in it. I liked very much the fact that DeWaal includes responses from 4 other well-known thinkers in this area, who did a good job of explaining their views and how they are similar to or different from DeWaal's. The narration in the aud [...]

    21. The book starts with a short but informative and well referenced summary of important results in the field of animal cognition (empathy, reciprocity, consolation in chimps and capuchins). The main issue considered is the continuity between animal behaviour and human morality. As it turns out experiments show strong similarities between animal and human moral behaviour, which is of course to be expected.Unfortunately what follows is a most inconsequential philosophical discussion by Wright, Korsg [...]

    22. I really enjoyed this book. A thoughtful, well-argued treatise on empathy and human nature. De Waal does a great job summarizing and synthesizing decades of research and the commentaries by other authors added great context and provided insighful challenges to de Waal's argument. I think one of de Waal's greatest contributions to the field of primatology and to understanding animal and human behavior, in general, is challenging the long-standing notions in Western culture that the animal inside [...]

    23. This book is exactly what it says on the tin. de Waal does not try to formulate his own systems of morality, but instead provides examples and analysis of how basic moral feelings (such as empathy and altruism) manifest themselves in the great apes and other animals. He aims to show that moral behavior in humans is not some isolated or strange occurrence among animals, but an outgrowth of what already exists in other animals.The book is convincing, and after de Waal's essay are five responses fr [...]

    24. "Primates y filósofos" es el título en castellano de este libro. Es un libro sobre todo técnico a nivel de psicología en ese espacio o escalón que hay entre los chimpancés y nosotros los humanos. ¿Somos lo mismo que ellos con una "capa" más? Primero está la introducción de de Waal, luego los comentarios e ideas de otros autores y posteriormente un epílogo del autor. No se recomienda a quien espere un libro ameno, sino más bien a quien quiera concer las opiniones de diferentes persona [...]

    25. Frans de Waal is a primatologist who takes on the argument about evolution and morality. Although it is apparent that our species is unique in it's capacity for concious consideration of moral actions, de Waal argues that the foundation of these moral ideas can be found in great apes, that morality is not entirely constructed by societal necessity. The book isn't too jargony, and a quick read. It's a little on the intense side, but what can I say? I love this stuff!

    26. Although more or less a recap of the brilliant "our inner ape" and "good natured", this book (edited reprint of Tanner lectures with commentary of various philosophers) gives a balanced (over)view of de Waal's work and ideas. And although the philosopher commentaries are sometimes a tough (or rather dull) read, it remains (in my opinion) a good read.

    27. Frans de Waal is an unforgiving reader of books he has decided to disagree with, and thus attacks straw men at some length in this book. (Having read The Selfish Gene, which de Waal construes as opposite his viewpoint, I think he must have misunderstood it.) But his observations and experience with non-human primates are interesting, and probably what most - including me - read the book for.

    28. «¿Por que habría de ser nuestra maldad el bagaje de un pasado simiesco y nuestra bondad únicamente humana? ¿Por qué no habríamos de ver continuidad con otros animales también en nuestros rasgos «nobles»?Si bien es cierto que los animales no son humanos, es igualmente cierto que los humanos sí son animales.

    29. This is an amazing book that studies our closest genetic relatives!! We have so much to learn about ourselves from the chimpanzees and bonobos. I whole heartedly recommend this book to everyone. I traded it away on a road trip and I hope it is still traveling and being enjoyed.

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