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The Ethical Dog: Scientific American

February 22, 2010

An innate moral sense; a sense of moral aesthetics; an archetype of morality – some believe that morality is not learnt but at least part inherited, implict in our common inheritance.

Every dog owner knows a pooch can learn the house rules—and when she breaks one, her subsequent groveling is usually ingratiating enough to ensure quick forgiveness. But few people have stopped to ask why dogs have such a keen sense of right and wrong. Chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates regularly make the news when researchers, logically looking to our closest relatives for traits similar to our own, uncover evidence of their instinct for fairness. But our work has suggested that wild canine societies may be even better analogues for early hominid groups—and when we study dogs, wolves and coyotes, we discover behaviors that hint at the roots of human morality.

via The Ethical Dog: Scientific American.

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