Chimpanzees Have Many Building Blocks Of Human Moral Systems

T[almer ]S[ommers]: Much of your work recently has been aimed at correcting another misconception -- that morality is exclusively a human invention, something that evolved long after we split from other apes. Do you think apes and bonobos are moral species? Do they exhibit moral behavior?

F[rans ]D[e ]W[aal]: Well, I usually don't call it moral behavior. I tend to call it building blocks or prerequisites for morality. [...] [T]hey do have empathy, sympathy, reciprocity. They share food, resolve conflicts. All the elements are present in human morality. So what I argue is that the basic psychology of the great apes is an essential element of human morality.

-- Tamler Sommers , Fransiscus Bernardus Maria de Waal

from "A Very Bad Wizard: Morality Behind the Curtain"

Quoted on Sat Mar 31st, 2012