In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

III. SOCIAL PLAY, SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, AND SOCIAL COMMUNICATION: COOPERATION, FAIRNESS, AND WILD JUSTICE IN PART II, we saw that dogs are extraordinary animals from whom we can learn much about comparative and evolutionary aspects of social behavior, social organization, and behavioral ecology. Dogs also are wonderful animals to study in our quest to learn more about the details and complexity of social play, as well as to develop a more complete understanding of, and appreciation for, fascinating topics such as cooperation, fairness, and morality—“wild justice,” as I call it—to refer to the evolution of social rules of engagement and fairness and forgiveness. Playing is about being fair, being nice, and minding manners. Social play is a foundation of fairness. I argue that we need to go beyond primates and study social carnivores who live in large extended family groups in which it is essential that the integrity and smooth functioning of the group is retained. I have been much influenced by the views of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the importance of cooperation and compassion in our and another animal’s daily interactions, and the ideas of the Russian anarchist Petr Kropotkin about the importance of cooperation in the evolution of behavior. The seminal research of the neurobiologist Antonio Damasio on the evolution of emotions and morality has also greatly influenced my thinking. I often find myself wondering why some humans are so arrogant as to think that our behavior should be the standard against which the ethics of other animals is evaluated. A glimpse at the headlines of any major newspaper cautions us to carefully take stock of who we are and how we behave, with abundant humility and considerably less hubris. I’m reminded of a conversation between Groucho Marx (Firefly) and a Mr. Trentino in the movie Duck Soup. Firefly: Maybe you can suggest something. As a matter of fact, you do suggest something. To me you suggest a baboon. Trentino: What! Firefly: I’m sorry I said that. It isn’t fair to the rest of the baboons. As we go about celebrating our moral superiority, let’s also remember to be fair to other animals. THE FIRST PENGUIN: KEEPING OPEN MINDS In this section, the central topics on which I concentrate are social play and social development. While I am not the first person to attempt to argue for a moral sense in animals, I often feel like that first penguin who jumps into the water while others wait to see if there are any predators around, an event I witnessed when I studied Adélie penguins in Antarctica. I say this not to toot my own horn but because I have endured some harsh criticism from colleagues who think that some of my ideas are outlandish. Nonetheless, in the spirit of science and scientism, which require an open mind as data are collected, I felt someone had to jump in and test ideas. Nothing is to be gained by impregnating science with preformed ideas and risking the loss of potentially fruitful ones. While science is not value free, we should try as hard as we can to lessen the impact of our own views of who we are and where we stand in comparison with other animals. As the papers in Part III show, studying play was not a waste of time. In many of these papers, I discuss aspects of the evolution of social cooperation , fairness, forgiveness, and morality in the context of what animals do when they play and interact with others. Taking videos of the animals and then watching the tapes in slow motion or one frame at a time is very helpful for learning about the subtleties of social communication and for appreciating , for instance, how rapidly messages can be sent even when dogs are running here and there. To discern the details of what animals do when they play, my students and I have filmed animals playing and watched the videos countless times, finding something new almost every time we study the play sequences. 124 PART III WHAT IS PLAY? One of my graduate students, John Byers, studied wild pigs (peccaries) while I studied various canids (members of the dog family, including domestic dogs, wolves, coyotes, jackals, and foxes). Like some other researchers, we discovered many features in common in the play of these (and other) mammals. Although a consensus on the definition of play has eluded researchers for many years, John and I defined social...

pdf

Additional Information

ISBN
9781592133499
Print ISBN
9781592133482
MARC Record
OCLC
614991568
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
N
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.