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An engrossing, lucid exploration of the origins of human morality that challenges our most basic assumptions, from the world's leading primatologist Is it really human nature to stab one another in the back in our climb up the corporate ladder? Competitive, selfish behaviour is often explained away as instinctive, thanks to evolution and "survival of the fittest," but in fact humans are equally hard-wired for empathy. Using research from the fields of anthropology, psychology, animal behaviour, and neuroscience, de Waal brilliantly argues that humans are group animals -- highly cooperative, sensitive to injustice, and mostly peace-loving -- just like other primates, elephants, and dolphins. This revelation has profound implications for everything from politics to office culture.
"It's the animal in us," we often hear when we've been bad. But why not when we're good?Primates and Philosopherstackles 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.
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