Frans De Waal's Ted Talk, Moral Behavior In Animals?

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In Frans de Waal’s Ted Talk, “Moral Behavior in Animals” the speaker discusses the concept of morality that is prevalent in animals and how the morality has been tested and identified. First Waal introduces human morality by using an example of a painting by artist, Hieronymus Bosch, titled, “The Garden of Earthly Delights” which conveys an image of humanity prior to its potential downfall. From this painting, Waal contemplates if morality would exist in humans if they had not been interested in knowledge. Waal shares that as he aged he became intrigued by chimpanzees, which led him to write a book discussing the correlation between the animal kingdom and humanity in terms of competition and aggression. Waal explains that during his research …show more content…
As he speaks, the screen behind him features a slide show including photos of the animals that have been studied and videos from the experiments to show the proof to the audience. The first example Waal shows is a photo of chimpanzees observing Waal’s book he published regarding the behavior of chimpanzees (Waal par. 2). Waal comments on the photo in a comedic manner suggesting that the chimpanzees appear to be interested in reading the material. However, his comment may hold some truth. Waal strategically places this photo within his lecture to induce laughter among the audience, but also to cause the audience to understand the message. The audience is able to develop a better understanding of the message when an image is present versus a description solely with words. By using this strategy, Waal does not mean to show that he believes the chimps are reading the book, he is simply showing that they have a sense of understanding and that their level of skill and brain activity is more than what is generally presumed. These visual elements assist Waal’s argument to convince his audience of an established morality in animals. Additionally, Waal uses a video to exemplify two male chimps making up after a recent fight. They are both residing in a tree while one of the chimps reaches his hand towards the other, initiating a reconciliation. Waal continues describing …show more content…
Waal represents invented ethos in multiple ways. An example of this strategy is how Waal includes clips of the experiments that were conducted on the chimps and elephants to test various aspects of morality. These videos play behind Waal while he is speaking to the audience, which helps the audience understand the material. The placement of the videos is essential to Waal’s argument because his claims are supported by the video evidence of the experiments, which the audience can see. Waal also invents ethos by mentioning the names of the scientists that conducted these experiments, giving credit to them, yet also revealing to the audience the source of his information. Waal gives credit to studies he and his colleagues conducted with scientists, Vicky Horner (Waal par. 18) and Sarah Brosnan (Waal par. 21). Through the use of these studies in Waal’s speech, his information is perceived as credible. Waal includes the study on altruism by Horner to show that chimpanzees prefer to partake in pro-social actions. In the study the chimps prefer to choose the option that gives a reward to himself and the other chimp, rather than the selfish choice of only giving a reward to himself (Waal par. 18-20). Waal includes the study on fairness by Brosnan to show how capuchin monkeys recognize unequal treatment. In the study, capuchin monkeys do not accept a treat if another is

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