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The Moral Lives of Animals

Bloomsbury, dist. by Macmillan. Mar. 2011. c.352p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781596914247. $26. SCI
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This book gathers the knowledge Peterson (Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man) has gained from more than 30 years' experience in psychology and animal behavior. Through well-organized chapters and many examples, he clearly develops his thoughts on how morality evolved in mammals, including humans. He initially concentrates on where morality comes from, covering basic concepts, linguistic bias, definitions of morality, and a theory of morality's structure. Rules of morality follow with topics such as authority, violence, sex, possession, and communication. Coverage of cooperation and kindness, forming attachments, and altruism and selflessness round out the book, which is capped by a summary of Peterson's speculations on where morality is going. He concludes with controversial thoughts on how evolving human morality could lead to greater tolerance and empathy—and peace—among humans and nonhumans alike.
VERDICT Although written for a general audience, this book challenges readers to absorb new information in an area unfamiliar to most. It is definitely worth the effort and is highly recommended for high school-age readers and up. Those engaged in human social relationships and concerns will also be interested.

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