Monkeys Have Morals, Biologists Chutzpah

The NY Times reports,

Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.
Biologists argue that these and other social behaviors are the precursors of human morality. They further believe that if morality grew out of behavioral rules shaped by evolution, it is for biologists, not philosophers or theologians, to say what these rules are.
Moral philosophers do not take very seriously the biologists’ bid to annex their subject, but they find much of interest in what the biologists say and have started an academic conversation with them.

Full story.
So if monkeys have morals, what’s our excuse?

4 thoughts on “Monkeys Have Morals, Biologists Chutzpah

  1. just because they have morals doesnt mean they dont also behave immorally. chimps, as i understand, also murder.

  2. “So if monkeys have morals, what’s our excuse?”
    We may not have the same morals, but don’t be speciest. We evolved differently. Also, some types of monkeys apparently like to grab bamboo canes and go beat the crap out of a different species of monkeys, but that’s probably the lighter furred monkeys fault for being oppressive.

  3. The major difference between human morality and this apparent “chimp morality” is our intellectual edge. Memory enables us to learn from the mistakes and accomplishments of past generations and apply them to our own day. Our facility for communication and our comprehension of abstract ideas enable us to collaborate and to speculate on future occurrences to do the right thing now by preparing ourselves or subsequent generations.
    With the added advantage that we can apply abstuse, theorectical debates to these studies and piss each other off in cyberspace.

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