Moral Monkeys and Kant | tutor2u Religious Studies

In todays ‘Thought for the Day” Akhandadhi Das spoke about research presented last week to show that Monkeys express empathy and offer help when a fellow animal is in trouble. These findings seem to suggest that animals have a moral sense, thus calling into question the idea that humans are unique. Does this have implications for the Moral Argument as a proof for the existence of God?

Click here for the link to the BBC Thought for the Day

At the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, last weekend, some research was presented to show that monkeys and apes like to be treated fairly, express empathy and offer help when a fellow animal is in distress. De Waals research is used to suggest that morality is an evolutionary effect that aids cooperations and the sharing of food.

If morality is an evolutionary effect then the Moral Argument, as suggested by Kant amongst others,  is called into question.

Kants moral argument
1) Moral behaviour is rational
2)Moral behaviour is only rational if justice is done
3) Jusitce will only be done if God exists
4)Therefore God exists.

Although the basic premise outlined remains correct - moral behaviour is rational behaviour. It does not follow that God exists. It becomes rational simply because it helps society to function / food sharing/ aids cooperation. We still ‘ought’ behave morally as it is still a rational thing to do and we still have a good reason to be moral.

In this formulation of the Moral Argument Kant asserts that justice will only be done if God exists. He holds it follows that since things are not just in this life then there must be an after life which provides us with the reason to be good. However, De Waals research suggests that animals have a sense of morality in order to aid food sharing suggests that the rational reason for us to behave morally is in this life. Morality serves to promote society. We do not need to look to an afterlife.

BUT-  Are the monkeys making a rational decision to be moral? Or are we imposing our views of morality onto their behavior? Surely or human version of morality is far more sophisticated than a sense of empathy for others or a desire for fairness?


Click here for the Utube Clip referred to in Thought for the Day of Christian the Lion

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