Animal smarts: A Q&A with primatologist Frans de Waal

We do a lot of studies on empathy in animals, and we found that they are affected by the mood states and emotions of others. This is getting close to human morality, the basis of which is that we empathize and care about others.


Chimps are not into reasoning or justification like we are, but they have the core –what the philosopher David Hume called the moral sentiments. There’s an enormous amount of psychological continuity between humans and our close animal relatives: compassion, empathy, sympathy, reciprocity, cooperation, a sense of fairness and justice.

What’s a good example of moral behavior in animals?