Four by Frans de Waal
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de Waal, Frans. 1996. Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. ISBN 0-674-35660-8. Pb. ISBN-13 9780674356610.

de Waal, Frans. 2001. The Ape and the Sushi Master. New York, NY: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-04176-0.

de Waal, Frans. 2006. Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN-13 9780691141299.

de Waal, Frans. 2009. The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society. Harmony Books, New York. ISBN 9780307407764.

Frans de Waal is an excellent storyteller — of stories of primate behavior. He fills Good Natured with vivid — and instructive — anecdotes of his observations of chimps and monkeys, especially well suited for classrooms with a non-academic tone. De Waal focuses thematically on features that contribute to a fully developed moral system: sympathy, rank and order, quid pro quo (tit for tat), and getting along (such as reconciliation), elements that he brings together in a final commentary. In The Ape and the Sushi Master he expands his focus to address features of primate and animal culture, aiming to erode assumptions that dichotomize nature and (exclusively human) culture. Later, in Primates and Philosophers de Waal returns to interdisciplinary discourse, taking issue in particular with the notion that human morality is only a thin 'veneer' covering a selfish core. He emphasizes the deeply embedded (primate) emotions of empathy, consolation, reciprocity and fairness. (The contributions from his commentators — Philip Kitcher, Peter Singer, Christine Korsgaard, and Robert Wright — however, are not deeply informative.) In his most recent Age of Empathy, de Waal shapes his engaging stories with more direct lessons for human society. Here, he often oversteps the limits of science, by portraying observed patterns of behavior as justifying mandates, not just illustrating potentials. But he nonetheless conveys vividly that Darwinism hardly condemns us to selfishness and mutual destruction.

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