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In this recent TED talk, top primatologist Frans de Waal discusses his early years and the disquiet he felt at the prevailing obsession with aggression and dominance in defining primate social behaviour. Social interactions within many species, but particularly primates, is in reality a complex mosiac of different dynamics, most of which have nothing to do with competitiveness and dominance. Perhaps this provides some evolutionary signposts as to the origin of moral behaviour in humans?

'I'm the boss!' photo (c) 2011, Ellie Attebery - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/“In fact, the rigid hierarchical organization researchers have ascribed to nearly all animal packs and troops over the past fifty years is based less on animal behavior than on an unconscious desire to find in nature a correlative to our hierarchical structures, be they business, the military, or the ‘traditional’ family with Dad on top.”

Mark Derr, Dog’s Best Friend: Annals of the Dog-Human Relationship (2004)


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