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Wild JusticeWild Justice

The Moral Lives of Animals

Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce

Narrated by Simon Vance

Available from Audible

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Book published by University of Chicago Press

Scientists have long counseled against interpreting animal behavior in terms of human emotions, warning that such anthropomorphizing limits our ability to understand animals as they really are. Yet what are we to make of a female gorilla in a German zoo who spent days mourning the death of her baby? Or a wild female elephant who cared for a younger one after she was injured by a rambunctious teenage male? Or a rat who refused to push a lever for food when he saw that doing so caused another rat to be shocked? Aren’t these clear signs that animals have recognizable emotions and moral intelligence? With Wild Justice Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce unequivocally answer yes.

Marrying years of behavioral and cognitive research with compelling and moving anecdotes, Bekoff and Pierce reveal that animals exhibit a broad repertoire of moral behaviors, including fairness, empathy, trust, and reciprocity. Underlying these behaviors is a complex and nuanced range of emotions, backed by a high degree of intelligence and surprising behavioral flexibility. Animals, in short, are incredibly adept social beings, relying on rules of conduct to navigate intricate social networks that are essential to their survival. Ultimately, Bekoff and Pierce draw the astonishing conclusion that there is no moral gap between humans and other species: morality is an evolved trait that we unquestionably share with other social mammals. Sure to be controversial, Wild Justice offers not just cutting-edge science, but a provocative call to rethink our relationship with—and our responsibilities toward—our fellow animals.

Marc Bekoff ( has published numerous books, including The Emotional Lives of Animals, and has provided expert commentary for many media outlets, including the The New York Times, CNN, and the BBC. Jessica Pierce ( has taught and written about philosophy for many years. She is the author of a number of books, including Morality Play: Case Studies in Ethics.

Simon Vance (narrator) is the winner of numerous Earphones Awards (AudioFile), an Audie Award (Audio Publishers Association), three Audiobook of the Year Awards (AudioFile), and the profession's highest honor, a Golden Voice (AudioFile).


“Read this book, share it widely, and incorporate its lessons into your classroom, family room or board room.”

—Jane Goodall

Wild Justice makes a compelling argument for open-mindedness regarding non-human animals... I think they’ve hit the right note here in trying to further discussion of a provocative thesis.”

—Deborah Blum, New Scientist

“One of the most fascinating—and readable—academic books of the year, this groundbreaking study gathers together some remarkable research about the way animals can show compassion and empathy and even have a sense of fair play.”

Sunday Telegraph

“The authors write as though they are having a conversation with the reader.... This well-thought-out, provocative work will give scientific and lay readers plenty of examples to rethink and open new paths of research into the lives and minds of animals.”


“Written as much for other academics as for interested lay readers, this lucid book is highly recommended for animal behavior collections in university and large public libraries. ”

Library Journal

Wild Justice represents multi-disciplinary scholarship at its finest. All future collaborations between ethologists and philosophers will be measured against the high standard set by Bekoff and Pierce. ”

—Tom Regan, author of Empty Cages

“This collaboration of a biologist and a philosopher has done a great service to the current understanding and future direction of the study of animal behavior.”

—Robert W. Sussman, coeditor of The Origins and Nature of Sociality


Preface: Into the Wild

1. Morality in Animal Societies: An Embarrassment of Riches

2. Foundations for Wild Justice: What Animals Do and What It Means

3. Cooperation: Reciprocating Rats and Back-Scratching Baboons

4. Empathy: Mice in the Sink

5. Justice: Honor and Fair Play among Beasts

6. Animal Morality and Its Discontents: A New Synthesis

All titles are published by:
University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks