Frans de Waal - Moral Behavior in Animals

As you probably know, one of the most popular arguments for the existence of God is known as the moral argument. There are variations on the theme, but one of the general ideas is that the human moral sense cannot be successfully explained by mindless naturalistic principles, partly because human morality seems to be an altogether unique phenomenon in the biological world, without any antecedents in our ancestors or parallels in our living cousins. Even some prominent biologists believe this!

But is it really true that there are no antecedents or parallels of a moral sense in other animals, or is that really just a straw man created by creationists and theologians to rationalize their beliefs? Well, whenever someone makes claims that can be easily verified empirically, we can simply turn to the evidence and see how such claims stand up to experimental scrutiny, and as world-renowned primatologist Frans de Waal shows in the following TEDTalk presentation, there are all kinds of examples of moral behavior in the animal world, often including two crucial components of morality: fairness and empathy.

And yes, since de Waal is a primatologist, you can expect to see plenty of examples of monkey moral behavior, and since we're dealing with monkeys, of course there will be some hilarity :)



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