Event Title

Do Nonhuman Animals Have the Capacity for Ethics and Morals?

Poster Number

088

Session Title

Religion and Philosophy

Document Type

Poster Presentation

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Biology

Honors Thesis Committee

William Rogers, Ph.D.; Jennifer Schafer, Ph.D.; and Janice Chism, Ph.D.

Description

Ethics and morals are subjective concepts and are based on the values that individuals hold within society. Ethics is the entirety of one’s sense of self and place within the society based on the values and rules of conduct by which one lives. Morals are the universal and inviolable rules in any society. These terms are often used synonymously; however, they are not the same, and the distinction is important. Ethics and morals are able to change depending on the context in which they are being used, such as different cultures, countries, or groups. Some ethologists believe there is no biological basis for morals and ethics, and this led to the idea that nonhuman animals do not have ethics or morals. In this paper, it is argued that nonhuman animals do demonstrate morals and ethics. Key moral and ethical concepts found in most human cultures, such as altruism, community concern, conflict resolution, consolation, empathy, reciprocity, and sympathy have also been shown within nonhuman animals, and this argues for the presence of moral and ethical systems in those species, as well.

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Apr 24th, 12:00 AM

Do Nonhuman Animals Have the Capacity for Ethics and Morals?

Ethics and morals are subjective concepts and are based on the values that individuals hold within society. Ethics is the entirety of one’s sense of self and place within the society based on the values and rules of conduct by which one lives. Morals are the universal and inviolable rules in any society. These terms are often used synonymously; however, they are not the same, and the distinction is important. Ethics and morals are able to change depending on the context in which they are being used, such as different cultures, countries, or groups. Some ethologists believe there is no biological basis for morals and ethics, and this led to the idea that nonhuman animals do not have ethics or morals. In this paper, it is argued that nonhuman animals do demonstrate morals and ethics. Key moral and ethical concepts found in most human cultures, such as altruism, community concern, conflict resolution, consolation, empathy, reciprocity, and sympathy have also been shown within nonhuman animals, and this argues for the presence of moral and ethical systems in those species, as well.