restricted access 11 Wild Justice, Cooperation, and Fair Play: Minding Manners, Being Nice, and Feeling Good
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11 Wild Justice, Cooperation, and Fair Play Minding Manners, Being Nice, and Feeling Good IN THIS PAPER I argue that we can learn much about “wild justice” and the evolutionary origins of social morality—behaving fairly—by studying social play behavior in group-living animals, and that interdisciplinary cooperation will help immensely. In our efforts to learn more about the evolution of morality we need to broaden our comparative research to include animals other than nonhuman primates. If one is a good Darwinian, it is premature to claim that only humans can be empathic and moral beings. By asking the question “What is it like to be another animal?” we can discover rules of engagement that guide animals in their social encounters. When I study dogs, for example, I try to be a “dogocentrist” and practice “dogomorphism .” My major arguments center on the following “big” questions: Can animals be moral beings or do they merely act as if they are? What are the evolutionary roots of cooperation, fairness, trust, forgiveness, and morality? What do animals do when they engage in social play? How do animals negotiate agreements to cooperate, to forgive, to behave fairly, to develop trust? Can animals forgive? Why cooperate and play fairly? Why did play evolve as it has? Does “being fair” mean being more fit—do individual variations in play influence an individual’s reproductive fitness, are more virtuous individuals more fit than less virtuous individuals? What is the taxonomic distribution of cognitive skills and emotional capacities necessary for individuals to be able to behave fairly, to empathize, to behave morally? Can we use information about moral behavior in animals to help us understand ourselves? I conclude that there is strong selection for cooperative fair play in which individuals establish and maintain a social contract to play because there are mutual benefits when individuals adopt this strategy and group stability may also be fostered. Numerous mechanisms have evolved to facilitate the initiation and maintenance of social play to keep others engaged, so that agreeing to play fairly and the resulting benefits of doing so can be readily achieved. I also claim that the ability to make accurate predictions about what an individual is likely to do in a given social situation is a useful litmus test for explaining what might be happening in an individual’s brain during social encounters, and that intentional or representational explanations are often important for making these predictions. Reprinted and slightly modified from Bekoff, M. 2004. Wild Justice, Cooperation, and Fair Play: Minding Manners, Being Nice, and Feeling Good. In R. Sussman and A. R. Chapman (eds.), The Origins and Nature of Sociality. Copyright © 2004 Walter de Gruyter, Inc. Published by Aldine de Gruyter, Hawthorne, NY. pp. 53–80. WILD JUSTICE: SOCIAL MORALITY, MANNERS, AND COOPERATION IN ANIMALS Those communities which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members would flourish best and rear the greatest number of offspring . —Charles Darwin 1871/1936, p. 163 I believe that at the most fundamental level our nature is compassionate, and that cooperation, not conflict, lies at the heart of the basic principles that govern our human existence ... By living a way of life that expresses our basic goodness, we fulfill our humanity and give our actions dignity, worth, and meaning. —His Holiness the Dalai Lama 2002, p. 68 Different as they are from language-using human beings, they are able to form relationships not only with members of their own species, but also with human beings, while giving expression to their own intentions and purposes. So that the relationships are far more clearly analogous to human relationships than some of the philosophical theorizing that I have discussed would allow. Some human beings indeed and some nonhuman animals pursue their respective goods in company with and in cooperation with each other. And what we mean by ‘goods’ in saying this is precisely the same, whether we are speaking of human or dolphin or gorilla. —Macintyre 1999, p. 61 Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool; And when he sees his reflection, he’s fulfilled; Oh, man is opposed to fair play; He wants it all and he wants it his way. —Bob Dylan 1983 The behavior of nonhuman animal beings (“animals”) fascinates people of all ages and of all cultures. People around the world are interested in what animals do, either because they are interested in the animals themselves or because they want to know more about the origins of...


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