I'd just like to say that I really appreciate the contributions you make, ajax13
, as well as SomebodyElse
(who already knows). I find them very thoughtful and considerate, besides which I usually agree with them!
I've always thought it strange how "animal lovers" insist on lumping all non-human animals together in saying how they're all pure and full of nothing but devotion, loyalty, and love. Well, at least for dogs. But even for other species, they seem to thing that they are all noble creatures with no character flaws.
That seems patronizing to me. Reminiscent of "noble savage" mentality, which denies the individuality of each person. I'm with you, I find it's more reasonable to assume that there's a spectrum of moral behavior in non-human animals, just as in human ones.
While SomebodyElse makes an excellent point about our not being able to understand the morality of other species, I agree with you that there's no reason to think that it's not fairly close, in some instances.
If I were a chimp, there are definitely individuals I would much rather have in my group than others. Aren't there dogs & cats who are much more mean-spirited and sneaky than others? Some just seem to have beautiful, generous spirits. Of course there are probably elements that of which we're completely oblivious. But some of them seem common to ours.
I think of it as comparable to the physical senses, some of which are shared, some of which we only have intimations of. I'm pretty sure most non-human animals see, hear, smell, feel, and taste. There's a vast difference in how they do these things, but basically, they seem to be there. A lot of dogs, though seem to know when their people are coming home, or when someone is about to have a seizure. How do they do that? Elephants seem to recognize the bones of long-dead family members. These may be extensions of smell, or they may be different senses altogether.
I believe there's a similar thing going on with morality.