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Animal Passions and Beastly Virtues

Animal Passions and Beastly Virtues: Reflections on Redecorating Nature

Marc Bekoff
Foreword by Jane Goodall
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Temple University Press
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  • Book Info
    Animal Passions and Beastly Virtues
    Book Description:

    What is it really like to be a dog? Do animals experience emotions like pleasure, joy, and grief? Marc Bekoff's work draws world-wide attention for its originality and its probing into what animals think about and know as well as what they feel, what physical and mental skills they use to live successfully within their social community. Bekoff's work, whether addressed to scientists or the general public, demonstrates that investigations into animal thought, emotions, self-awareness, behavioral ecology, and conservation biology can be compassionate as well as scientifically rigorous.In Animal Passions and Beastly Virtues, Bekoff brings together essays on his own ground-breaking research and on what scientists know about the remarkable range and flexibility of animal behavior. His fascinating and often amusing observations of dogs, wolves, coyotes, prairie dogs, elephants, and other animals playing, leaving and detecting scent-marks ("yellow snow"), solving problems, and forming friendships challenge the idea that science and the ethical treatment of animals are incompatible.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-349-9
    Subjects: Biological Sciences, Zoology, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Jane Goodall

    Animal Passions and Beastly Virtuesis a collection of essays by Marc Bekoff. It is a book for scientists and nonscientists alike. Academic readers will be intellectually stimulated by many of the discussions, and lay people will be fascinated and often inspired. The writing is clear, so even complex subjects can be readily understood by the general public.

    The essays in this book cover many topics, and we are able to trace the gradual development of Marc’s research and ideas over a thirty-year period. There are those detailing his work in the field of social play and the behavioral ecology...

  4. Introduction: What Does It Feel Like to Be a Fox?
    (pp. 1-22)

    My wonderful parents love to recall many stories about my lifelong interest in animals. My father remembers, with a wide smile, that on a ski trip when I was six years old I asked him what a red fox was feeling as he merrily crossed our path as we traversed a frozen lake. When I recently visited my parents in Florida, my father reminded me that I was in awe of the magnificence of the fox’s red coat and white-tipped tail and lost track of where I was skiing. And he well remembers that when I was four years old,...

  5. I. Emotions, Cognition, and Animal Selves:: “Wow! That’s Me!”

    • [I. Introduction]
      (pp. 23-34)

      One of the hottest fields in the study of animal behavior is the study of animal minds—what they are like and what is in them. Researchers in many disciplines are asking questions such as “What is it like to be a specific animal?” “What does it feel like to be that animal?” and “What do animals know about themselves, other individuals, and their environment?”

      In this part of the book, “Emotions, Cognition, and Animal Selves,” I first consider emotions because there is wide interest in what animals feel and how they express their feelings. To understand why countless people...

    • 1 Beastly Passions
      (pp. 35-39)

      It started with a touch. Soon Butch and Aphro were slowly caressing. Then they rolled together and embraced, locking flippers, before rolling back again. For perhaps three minutes, the two southern right whales lay sideby- side, ejecting water through their blow holes. The cetaceans then swam off, touching, surfacing and diving in unison. As he watched, Bernd Wursig of Texas A&M University became convinced that Butch and Aphro were developing a powerful mutual bond. Could this be leviathan love?

      That’s a controversial question. Biologists disagree about the nature of emotions in nonhuman animals, and especially whether they consciously experience their...

    • 2 Cognitive Ethology: The Comparative Study of Animal Minds
      (pp. 40-49)

      Cognitive ethology is the comparative, evolutionary, and ecological study of nonhuman animal (hereafter animal) minds, including thought processes, beliefs, rationality, information processing, and consciousness. It is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field of science that is attracting much attention from researchers in numerous, diverse disciplines, including those interested in animal welfare (Cheney and Seyfarth, 1990; Ristau, 1991; Griffin, 1992; Allen and Bekoff, 1995, 1997; Bekoff and Allen, 1997; Bekoff and Jamieson, 1996). Cognitive ethology can trace its beginnings to the writings of Charles Darwin, an anecdotal cognitivist (Jamieson and Bekoff, 1993), and some of his contemporaries and disciples. Their approach incorporated...

    • 3 On Aims and Methods of Cognitive Ethology
      (pp. 50-65)
      Dale Jamieson and Marc Bekoff

      In 1963 Niko Tinbergen published a paper, “On Aims and Methods of Ethology,” dedicated to his friend Konrad Lorenz. This essay is a landmark in the development of ethology. Here Tinbergen defines ethology as “the biological study of behavior” and seeks to demonstrate the “close affinity between Ethology and the rest of Biology” (p. 411). Building on Huxley (1942), Tinbergen identifies four major problems of ethology: causation, survival value, evolution, and ontogeny. Concern with these problems, under different names (mechanism, adaptation, phylogeny, and development), has dominated the study of animal behavior during the last half century (Dawkins, et al. 1991;...

    • 4 Reflections on Animal Selves
      (pp. 66-76)
      Marc Bekoff and Paul W. Sherman

      Is self-cognizance a uniquely human attribute, or do other animals also have a sense of self? Although there is considerable interest in this question, answers remain elusive. Progress has been stymied by misunderstandings in terminology, a focus on a narrow range of species, and controversies over key concepts, experimental paradigms and interpretations of data. Here, we propose a new conceptual and terminological framework, emphasizing that degrees of self-cognizance differ among animals because of the cognitive demands that their species-specific social structures and life-history characteristics have placed upon them over evolutionary time. We suggest that the self-cognizance of an organism falls...

  6. II. The Social Behavior of Dogs and Coyotes

    • [II. Introduction]
      (pp. 77-85)

      The essays in Part II are concerned with various aspects of the social behavior and behavioral ecology of coyotes and dogs, apart from social play, which is the subject of the next section. They highlight the importance of comparative research, covering such topics as social organization and behavioral ecology, social communication, behavioral flexibility, the behavioral biology of feral dogs, scent marking, and the processes of domestication and feralization. Dogs are fascinating beasts on their own, independent of the wonderful traits which we impute to them. I have learned much from the dogs—Moses, Mishka, Sky, Inukpuk, Sasha, and Jethro-with whom...

    • 5 The Social Ecology of Coyotes
      (pp. 86-98)
      Marc Bekoff and Michael C. Wells

      Motion-picture films about the American West almost always depict coyotes in the same way, as solitary animals howling mournfully on the top of a distant hill. In reality, coyotes are protean creatures that display a wide range of behavior. They are characterized by highly variable modes of social organization, ranging from solitary (except for the breeding season) and transient individuals to gregarious and stable groups that may live in the same area over a long period of time. Between the two extremes are single individuals and mated pairs that tend to remain in one area. Indeed, a single coyote may...

    • 6 Population and Social Biology of Free-Ranging Domestic Dogs, Canis familiaris
      (pp. 99-111)

      Social organization refers to the spatial relationships, group composition, and patterns of social interaction among individuals, and the overall manner in which these variables interact to characterize a population (Bekoff and Wells, 1986). Among carnivores, intraspecific variation in social organization often is a response to the quantity and distribution of local food resources (Bekoff et al., 1984), and the strategy for acquiring those resources (Caraco and Wolf, 1975; Nudds, 1978).

      Few detailed data on the social organization of free-ranging domestic dogs (Canis familiaris), (those having unrestricted access to public property—Beck, 1973), have been reported (Beck, 1973; Daniels, 1983a, 1983b;...

    • 7 Ground Scratching by Male Domestic Dogs: A Composite Signal?
      (pp. 112-115)

      While mammalian scent marking and the significance of various chemical deposits (e.g., urine, feces, saliva, glandular secretions) in social communication has generated considerable interest (Birch, 1974; Eisenberg and Kleiman, 1972; Johnson, 1973; Muller-Schwarze and Mozell, 1977), much less emphasis has been placed on visual components of behaviors used to deposit scent. Hediger (1949) coined the term “demonstration marking” to refer to conspicuous marking behaviors that also might function as visual social displays. However, that a particular behavior associated with scent (urine) deposition also might have evolved to serve as a visual display has been demonstrated only once. In male domestic...

    • 8 Observations of Scent-Marking and Discriminating Self from Others by a Domestic Dog (Canis familiaris): Tales of Displaced Yellow Snow
      (pp. 116-122)

      Despite much interest in scent-marking by carnivores (Bekoff 1979a,b; Bekoff and Wells 1986; Gese and Ruff 1997; Allen et al. 1999 and references therein), there have been few experimental field studies of the phenomenon, and none such as the one described here in which clumps of urine-saturated snow (‘yellow snow’) were moved from one place to another to compare the responses of an individual to his own and other conspecific urine. Thus, little is known about urinating and marking behavior despite popular accounts that suggest otherwise, and there are few detailed field data concerning how free-ranging animals respond to their...

  7. III. Social Play, Social Development, and Social Communication:: Cooperation, Fairness, and Wild Justice

    • [III. Introduction]
      (pp. 123-133)

      In Part II, we saw that dogs are extraordinary animals from whom we can learn much about comparative and evolutionary aspects of social behavior, social organization, and behavioral ecology. Dogs also are wonderful animals to study in our quest to learn more about the details and complexity of social play, as well as to develop a more complete understanding of, and appreciation for, fascinating topics such as cooperation, fairness, and morality—“wild justice,” as I call it—to refer to the evolution of social rules of engagement and fairness and forgiveness.

      Playing is about being fair, being nice, and minding...

    • 9 Social Communication in Canids: Evidence for the Evolution of a Stereotyped Mammalian Display
      (pp. 134-139)

      Despite a history of considerable interest in animal social communication (1-3), few data are available on the “anatomy” or form of signals that are used. Indeed, one of the basic concepts of classical ethology, the “fixed” action pattern, rarely has been studied quantitatively (4-7). The form of visual displays has been studied quantitatively in invertebrates, lizards, and birds (4-7); however, there are very few data for mammalian displays (8, 9). In addition, little is known about the ontogeny of mammalian displays (2, 8, 10). Available evidence has demonstrated clearly that some social signals show phenotypic plasticity and that selection can...

    • 10 Virtuous Nature
      (pp. 140-143)

      If you think that we are the only creatures on Earth with a moral sense, then you’re in good company. Most experts in behaviour believe that morality is a uniquely human trait, without which our complex social life would never have emerged. I disagree. Accuse me of anthropomorphising if you like, but I’m convinced that many animals can distinguish right from wrong. Decades spent watching wild and captive animals have persuaded me that species living in groups often have a sense of fair play built on moral codes of conduct that help cement their social relationships. Nature isn’t always ruthlessly...

    • 11 Wild Justice, Cooperation, and Fair Play: Minding Manners, Being Nice, and Feeling Good
      (pp. 144-176)

      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...

  8. IV. Human Dimensions:: Human-Animal Interactions

    • [IV. Introduction]
      (pp. 177-181)

      Our relationships with other animals raise numerous and complicated issues about who we are in the grand scheme of things, and big questions about how we should treat the other animal beings with whom we share Earth. As we intrude here and there, are we guardians, responsible researchers, responsible stewards, or conquerors? Our relationships with other animals range from fairly straightforward and symmetrical, especially with companion animals with whom we share our homes and our hearts, to rather complicated and asymmetrical, as with animals with whom we do not feel especially close or individuals whom we call pests because they...

    • 12 Human (Anthropogenic) Effects on Animal Behavior
      (pp. 182-191)

      Humans are here, there, and everywhere. We are a curious lot, and our intrusions, intentional and inadvertent, have significant impacts on a wide variety of animals and plants, as well as water, the atmosphere, and inanimate landscapes. When humans influence the behavior of animals the effects are referred to as being “anthropogenic” in origin. Often our influence on the behavior of animals and the unbalancing of nature is very subtle and longterm. Often we become at odds with the very animals with whom we choose to live when they become nuisances, dangerous to us or to our pets, or destroy...

    • 13 Translocation Effects on the Behavior of Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus)
      (pp. 192-196)
      John P. Farrar, Karlin L. Coleman, Marc Bekoff and Eric Stone

      Black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) are native to The Great Plains region of North America. Since the spread of agriculture and ranching on their former range, prairie dogs have been subjected to intense government extermination programs (Clark 1979). They now occupy only a small percentage of their former range: 600,000 hectares in 1960, compared to 100 million hectares in 1900 (Koford 1958, Miller et al. 1994). But even their current range is decreasing in size due to continued human development. Prairie dogs are now becoming recognized as an essential part of healthy prairie ecosystems (Whickler and Deitling 1988, Miller et...

    • 14 Interactions Among Dogs, People, and the Environment in Boulder, Colorado: A Case Study
      (pp. 197-208)

      Across the United States and in many other countries there is growing interest in how human and nonhuman animals (hereafter animals) can best share space that can be used by all parties for recreational purposes (see Knight and Gutzwiller 1995 for review). Although concern often focuses on the mutual well-being of humans and animals, when priorities have to be established, humans generally receive favorable treatment. Furthermore, when there are competing interests among humans, domestic dogs (Canis familiaris), wild animals, and “nature” in general, dogs’ well-being and interests are often overridden (because they are “merely dogs” or “simply domesticated animals” (see...

    • 15 Behavioral Interactions and Conflict Among Domestic Dogs, Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs, and People in Boulder, Colorado
      (pp. 209-218)
      Marc Bekoff and Robert W. Ickes

      World-wide there is growing interest in how human and non-human animals (hereafter animals) can best share what is becoming a limited resource, namely space that can be used by all parties for a variety of activities (see Knight and Gutzwiller 1995 for review). In Boulder, Colorado (USA) and other locales, among the numerous issues regarding land use is the concern that free-running domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) cause disturbance to wildlife and habitat. Yet, there are few detailed studies on relationships between dogs and wildlife (Miller 1994, Knight and Gutzwiller 1995, Bekoff and Meaney 1997, and references therein). In Boulder, dogs...

  9. V. Ethics, Compassion,Conservation, and Activism:: Redecorating Nature

    • [V. introduction]
      (pp. 219-224)

      Discussions about ethics and animals make many people squirm. Surely, they exclaim, there are more important and less difficult things to talk about. More important, no; less difficult, certainly. While ignorance may be bliss, ignoring questions about our ethical responsibilities to animals compromises not only their lives and our integrity, but also the quality of scientific research. And questions about ethics and animals will not go away, even if we try to ignore them. More and more students and practicing scientists recognize that asking questions about ethicsisin the best interests of good science, and increasing numbers of nonresearchers...

    • 16 The Importance of Ethics in Conservation Biology: Let’s Be Ethicists not Ostriches
      (pp. 225-231)

      There can be no question that ethics is an essential component in animal conservation biology. For that matter, ethics is very important inallconservation projects, including those that deal with botanical, aquatic, atmospheric, and inanimate environs. As I write this short piece I find myself asking isn’t this so obvious that you’re merely preaching to the choir? Well, yes and no. Some people seem (perhaps unintentionally) to ignore ethical issues and hope they will disappear if they play “ostrich.” The origin of this essay stems from a recent issue of this journal (July/August 2001) that dealt with carnivore conservation....

    • 17 Ethics and the Study of Carnivores: Doing Science While Respecting Animals
      (pp. 232-262)
      Marc Bekoff and Jamieson Dale

      The human relationship to nature is a deeply ambiguous one. Human animals are both a part of nature and distinct from it. They are part of nature in the sense that, like other forms of life, they were brought into existence by natural processes, and, like other forms of life, they are dependent on their environment for survival and success. Yet humans are also reflective animals with sophisticated cultural systems. Because of their immense power and their ability to wield it intentionally, humans have duties and responsibilities that other animals do not (Bekoff and Jamieson 1991).

      One striking feature of...

  10. Afterword: Minding Animals, Minding Earth: Old Brains in New Bottlenecks
    (pp. 263-276)

    Humans are part of nature. We do not stand above or to the side of other beings or natural processes. There is no duality, no “them” and “us.” If we try to separate our reality from that of other nature and Earth, a division results that causes much discontent and discord, for it is so very unnatural. I find it settling—very relaxing—to situate myself in nature and to sense and experience the magic and wonderment of allowing myself to be there. Living with all the contradictions in which we are immersed and with which we are surrounded makes...

  11. References
    (pp. 277-290)
  12. Index
    (pp. 291-304)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 305-305)