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Instructors’ Course Descriptions for Fall 2020

The following descriptions of courses being offered by the Philosophy Department in Fall 2020 were submitted by the course instructors. Exceptions are descriptions in braces {…}, which have been adopted from the Undergraduate Catalogue (students desiring further information regarding the specific content of courses with bracketed descriptions are advised to contact the instructors directly).

Specific information regarding the dates, times, and locations of these courses may be found in the Registrar’s official Schedule of Courses for Fall 2020.

2000 Level Courses

PHI 2010 Introduction to Philosophy — Dr. Borges

The goal of this course is to introduce students to some of the main issues in Western Philosophy. We will do this by critically approaching classical and contemporary readings on question such as ‘What is philosophy?’, ‘What is knowledge?’, ‘How should we act?’, and ‘What is the meaning of life?’. A further goal is to introduce students to the methods and tools philosophers use when approaching philosophical questions. This course counts towards the Humanities (H) general education requirement and the Writing (W) requirement (4000 words).

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 2010 Introduction to Philosophy — Dr. Driggers

Perhaps you decided to enroll in college to increase your knowledge about a particular subject. Maybe, after a few courses, you would say that you know a thing or two about, for example, calculus or business administration or art history. But how can you really be sure?

Ask yourself: how do you know that you aren’t dreaming right now? Or that you aren’t in an elaborate virtual reality simulation? Could it be that all of the experts you rely on for “knowledge” are really just trying to cheat you out of money? Once you begin to doubt these things, how can you be sure that you really “know” anything?

In Introduction to Philosophy, you will learn how to tackle skeptical questions like these. In our first unit of the class, we will ask about the foundations of knowledge. What does it mean to know something, as opposed to merely believing it?

We will also consider questions in a variety of different areas of philosophy. For example, we will wonder about the relationship of your mind to your brain. Are they the same thing? Could your mind exist apart from your brain? Could there be zombies with no mind at all?

In addition to questions about knowledge and the mind-body relationship, we will ask other philosophical questions: Can we prove that God exists, or can we only have faith that God exists? To what extent does the morality of our actions depend on forces beyond our control? Why be moral in the first place?

Our primary goal will be to construct and evaluate arguments based on good evidence in favor of different answers to these questions. The answers we will consider come from both classical readings in Philosophy (like Descartes’ Meditations) as well as from contemporary sources.

This course aims to develop students’ skills in critical thinking, reading, and writing. Class time will largely be discussion-based, though I will lecture on some key concepts from the reading.

Students will be asked to write three papers. They will also be asked to participate in a peer review process of two of these papers to help them challenge their ideas and strengthen their arguments. The rest of the course grade will be based on students participating in guided discussion, taking weekly reading quizzes, and their performance on a final exam.

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 2010 Introduction to Philosophy — David Ortiz

The word ‘philosophy’ derives from Greek, and means ‘love of wisdom’. ‘Love of wisdom’, however, does not provide an adequately descriptive account of what philosophy is. Philosophy is concerned with theory building, and asking fundamental questions, such as: “what makes an action right or wrong?”, “is morality objective or subjective?”, “what does it mean to know something?”, and “what does an ideal state look like?”. This course will serve as a survey in philosophy. We will look at papers in different fields of philosophy, ranging from ethics to epistemology. The papers that we read will often present different views. It is not the goal of this course to persuade you into thinking a certain way. Rather, the goal is to get you thinking about complex ideas in a critical and organized fashion.

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 2010 Introduction to Philosophy — Dr. E. Palmer

This course is designed to familiarize students with some central issues in philosophy and to help develop and hone writing and critical thinking skills. Most of the semester will be devoted towards thinking through the following questions: (1) What is knowledge? Can we have knowledge of the external world? (2) What is free will, and can we have it? (3) What is morality about? Are there moral facts? If so, what do they depend on? And can they be known?

The course provides 4000 words of credit towards the Writing Requirement at UF as well as satisfying the State Core General Education requirement for Humanities. Assignments include 2-4 short writing assignments, 3 argumentative essays, and 2 exams. Success in this course depends on regular attendance, proper preparation for class, and active engagement with the materials and ideas under discussion.

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 2010 Introduction to Philosophy (UFO) — Dr. E. Palmer

Patient and thorough exploration of philosophical questions is an ideal way to develop skills in clear writing and critical thinking. This course introduces the discipline of philosophy with a focus on developing those skills. Most of the semester is devoted three traditional issues: (a) What is knowledge? What can we know? (b) What is free will? Is there reason to think we don’t have any free will? (c) What is morality all about? Are there facts about what is morally right and wrong? At the end of the semester, we will more briefly explore some famous questions about happiness and the meaning of life. The emphasis throughout is on writing clearly about such elusive questions and presenting good reasons to endorse one answer over another.

The course provides 4000 words of credit towards the Writing Requirement at UF as well as satisfying the State Core General Education requirement for Humanities. Assignments include three argumentative essays, four short writing assignments, several short quizzes and tests, and regular activity assignments. For each unit of the class, students are divided into small groups in which they must post their responses to the activity assignments in that unit and select, as a group, the best of those to be submitted for a grade. There are no major exams (no mid-term or final exam). No book purchases are required, as all readings are made available online through the Canvas system.

This is an entirely online course. Because there is no regular meeting time during which we all meet to discuss the material, it is especially important to keep up with all assignments, to participate in discussion boards, and to ask for help when needed. While the structure of assignments is designed to ensure that students challenge themselves, it is also designed so as to minimize the amount of stress placed on any particular assignment. Success requires, instead, regular and serious effort throughout the semester.

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 2010 Introduction to Philosophy — Dr. Pismenny

This course will introduce you to some of the main topics of philosophy. Philosophy addresses some of the most fundamental questions in life. The main tool by which Philosophy addresses these questions is the human capacity to reason. You will find that philosophical answers are based on reasoned arguments, which analyze and seek to justify beliefs. Philosophy, therefore, is a sort of self-examination, in which you discover what you think, and then reflect on whether your opinions are really worth holding. To look critically at your own ideas is the essence of the life of reason.

During this course you will examine your views on several core philosophical topics such as the nature of personal identity, the possibility of knowledge, and the basis of morality. You will read philosophical texts, analyze their arguments and evaluate their answers to the questions of the course, see how philosophical concepts can help you understand practical dilemmas, and express your ideas through arguments – both verbal and written – which present your reasons for holding your beliefs.

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 2010 Introduction to Philosophy — Dr. Ross

Over the past few months, we have all become intensely aware of the ways in which our lives—and our world—are out of our control. Many of us have been deeply shaken by this feeling of loss and uncertainty. But is this loss of control really as new as it feels? Is it a genuine change from our pre-Covid world? Or is our current situation merely illuminating the uncertainty that has always been there, lying under the surface of the habits and rituals that make up our normal lives?

In this class we will explore several fundamental philosophical questions that are at the core of our lived experience, especially those that have been put center-stage by our current situation: How can life be meaningful when there seems to be no progress and no purpose? Is free will real, or only an illusion? Moral responsibility? Merit? In a world full of filter bubbles, “fake news”, and echo chambers, how can we genuinely know that what we see—or read—is true? To what extent is our perception of the social world an illusion, and can acknowledging this change how we see the world?

A philosophy course cannot give you the answers to these challenging questions, but studying philosophy helps us understand why we shouldn’t expect quick and easy answers here. Studying philosophy helps us understand why and in what ways our world is more complex, nuanced, and uncertain than we may have thought. It allows us to live authentically—an “examined life”. When we know what we value, when we see ourselves and our world more clearly, we give ourselves a method for making the best decisions we can in a world with no absolute guarantees.

Learning how to approach problems with a philosophical mindset will help you find and ask better questions, ones that can move a conversation—and a society—forward.

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 2010 Introduction to Philosophy — James Simpson

The course introduces students to philosophy by engaging, in a critical and substantive way, with various readings and arguments, both classical and contemporary, in the history of philosophy. The course will have a four-part structure. The first part will cover the central question in the philosophy of religion: “Does God exist?” We will concentrate on critically examining two rather prominent arguments for God’s existence—the ontological argument and the contingency argument—and one rather prominent argument against God’s existence—the argument from evil (the problem of evil). The second part of the course will focus on epistemology (theory of knowledge), specifically on epistemic justification, skepticism, and analyses of knowledge. The third part of the course will be concerned with personal identity, free will & moral responsibility. The fourth part of the course will focus on action, meta-ethics—nihilism, objectivism, and relativism/subjectivism—and on normative ethics—in particular, we will examine three ways (utilitarian, deontological, and virtue-theoretical) of characterizing whether or not an action is morally right and standard difficulties that each standard of right action must face. (H) (WR)

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 2100 Logic — Dr. Borges

The main goal of this course is to introduce students to formal logic, its applications to language and reasoning. To that end, we will study the syntax and semantics of sentential logic. Students will also be introduced to derivations in sentential logic. Finally, students will become familiar with some of the more informal methods of reasoning and argumentation (such as the proper use of analogies and counterexamples).

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 2630 Contemporary Moral Issues — Dr. Rick

Do non-human animals have moral standing, comparable to that of human beings? Is it ever morally permissible to eat animals? What is sexism, and should prostitution be ethically and legally permissible or prohibited? What is racism, and are affirmative action policies morally justified or morally bankrupt? What is the most ethically justified immigration policy – one of largely open or largely closed borders? Given the persistence of vast global poverty in our world, what moral duties do those of us in wealthy nations have to persons in impoverished states? Should private gun ownership be morally permissible or impermissible? Is climate change a significant issue for individual morality? Are individuals morally responsible for their greenhouse gas emissions, despite the fact that individual actions seem to make little difference to climate change?

These are examples of moral questions about which many of us have strong and often opposing opinions. And, just as we disagree on many of these issues, so do many philosophers, political theorists, and economists. In this course, we examine opposing philosophical arguments and points of view on these urgent moral questions. The governing aim of our course will be to come to grips with and critically reflect on the underlying justifications for the various sides of these different debates. This course counts towards the Humanities (H) general education requirement and the Writing (W) requirement (4000 words).

Syllabus (PDF)

IDS 2935 The Idea of Happiness — N. Rothschild

Every person, presumably, wants to have a good life. What is it, though, to live well? What sorts of things make our lives good? These, and related questions regarding the nature of human happiness and well-being and how they may be achieved were fundamental to philosophy at its inception. Socrates famously declared that the unexamined life is not worth living, thereby calling attention to the need to focus on fundamental matters of value in order to live a genuinely worthwhile life. Philosophers have continued to approach the question of how we ought to live in order to attain genuine happiness or well-being, and in recent decades this issue has become the focus of renewed attention.

This Quest 1 course addresses the question that we cannot help but ask ourselves, “How should I live?” Drawing primarily on the disciplines of Philosophy and Classics, in conjunction with close analysis of works of literature, drama, and film, this course will expose students to both historical and contemporary perspectives on well-being and happiness. The readings have been selected to represent a number of distinct perspectives, both philosophical and non-philosophical, and to help students think for themselves about the kind of lives they want to live. Students will be encouraged to find in historical texts material relevant to their own lives, not despite, but because of the fundamentally different assumptions and commitments that animate views which are thousands of years old.

Syllabus (PDF)

IDS 2936 Cultural Animals: Morality and the Limits of Nature and Culture — Dr. Rick

Humans are cultural animals. On the one hand, we are biologically evolved animals – members of nature’s kingdom, bound by its universal laws and norms. On the other hand, we are creatures of culture, variably shaped by the influences and innovations of our particular societies and communities. Given our dual citizenship within these domains, questions and challenges emerge regarding the boundaries and allegiances between human nature and human culture. These limits are especially urgent with respect to understanding the contours and content of human morality. In Cultural Animals, we will examine the interplay between the ‘natural’ and the ‘cultural’ aspects of our lives, with particular emphasis on exploring how these often-coordinating, yet potentially-competing, forces serve to shape our moral practices.

Syllabus (PDF)

3000 Level Courses

PHH 3100 Ancient Greek Philosophy — N. Rothschild

This course is designed to familiarize students with some of the main ideas of the three most important thinkers who stand at the beginning of the western philosophical tradition: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Some attention will also be devoted to later philosophers writing in the Hellenistic era. This course is the first part of the Philosophy Department’s history of philosophy sequence. Together with PHH 3400: Modern Philosophy, it aims to give students an understanding of the major questions addressed in the history of Western philosophy, the range of answers offered to these questions, and the methods employed in addressing them. PHH 3100 is required of all philosophy majors and meets an area requirement for the philosophy minor.

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 3130 Symbolic Logic — Dr. Ray

The course is designed to provide the student with a basic working knowledge of first-order logic and semantics, and familiarize him or her with some basic metalogical results. We will cover basic topics in elementary logic including: propositional, quantificational, identity, free, and modal logics, formal semantics, completeness. We will also formulate the philosophical underpinnings of our subject with special care.

Syllabus (PDF)

PHM 3202 Political Philosophy — Dr. Driggers

This November, the United States will participate in what it calls a “democratic” election—our government leaders are selected by a direct vote by all citizens. It is common for Americans to prefer democracy to other forms of government—monarchy, totalitarianism, aristocracy, etc. But what is democracy, exactly? And why should we prefer it to other forms of government? If we are clear about what democracy is, should we really apply that term to the American form of government? What is the scope of democracy—should citizens have control not only over the operation of the government, but say the operation of the economy? Do healthy democracies require open debate about all political issues, or should there be restrictions on permissible debate? Given that democracies are typically governed by majority rule, what should we say about the protection of minority populations?

The course attempts to examine this issue by reflecting on major works across the history of philosophy from Plato to Martin Luther King Jr. Some of our major topics will be: the connection between one’s understanding of human nature and their ideal form of government; whether or not there should be restrictions on debate, speech, or thought; the nature of justice; the role of ideology and language in sculpting the shape of political debate; and the role of public participation in the economy.

The course grade will be determined mostly by a 3000+ word research paper, which will be developed over the last third of the semester. The rest of the grade will be determined by weekly writing assignments and participation in discussion.

There are no prerequisites for this course, though background in philosophy is highly recommended. (H) (WR)

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 3300 Theory of Knowledge — Dr. Borges

This course aims at enabling the student to think critically about some of the central issues in the theory of knowledge. Among other issues, we will discuss (i) the nature of knowledge, (ii) the difference (if any) between knowledge and true belief, (iii) the distinction between perceptual and inferential knowledge, and (iv) whether knowledge is possible in the first place (skepticism). Classical and contemporary readings will be assigned. This course counts towards the Humanities (H) general education requirement.

Syllabus (PDF)

PHH 3400 Modern Philosophy — Dr. Driggers

Can your mind exist without your body? Does God exist, and if so, what is God like? How are we supposed to answer these questions: can we rely on our sense experience, or do we believe that we have innate ideas? Does the physical world exist outside of our minds? In this course, we will read and discuss how philosophers from the Early Modern period answered these and other questions. We will read works by Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Conway, Hume, Leibniz and Kant. These philosophers are interesting not only because they produced difficult and fascinating arguments in favor of radically different answers to these questions, but also because they were “systematic” thinkers. Our goal will be to get an understanding of the various philosophical “systems” constructed by these philosophers in an effort to help us answer deep questions about the nature of god, the possibility of miracles, the nature and limits of human knowledge, the nature of personal identity, the existence and nature of the material world and so on. This course is highly recommended not only for philosophy majors, but also for those interested in how thinkers from the past tried to answer the “big questions” that we ask ourselves today. This course presupposes no knowledge of the history of philosophy, though students would likely benefit from having taken Ancient Greek philosophy. (H)

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 3500 Metaphysics — Dr. Biro

For most of the semester, we will be exploring some long-debated questions about  the individuation and identity conditions of ordinary material objects: what makes one the object it is and distinct from others and what makes it the same object over time. Our discussions will be based on recent papers on these topics which will be made available in a course-pack. Towards the end of the semester, we will take a brief look at parallel questions concerning persons.

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 3553 The Self, Reason, and Ethics — Dr. Pismenny

This course is a course in Moral Psychology. Moral Psychology is a field of study in both philosophy and psychology in which people study phenomena that are both psychological and ethical in nature—such as altruism and egoism, moral judgment, praise and blame, moral responsibility, practical deliberation, intentional action, virtue and vice, character, moral development, and so on. To explain these things, the moral psychologist must answer a number of particularly difficult questions about the nature of our actions and the way we do and should evaluate them. To do so, we will draw on research in social, cognitive and developmental psychology, as well as philosophy.

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 3650 Moral Philosophy — Dr. Gardner

What do morally wrong actions have in common? What do right and wrong have to do with things that are good and bad? In this course we will explore normative ethics, the branch of philosophy that attempts to systematize and explain our moral judgments. The major theories we will consider include ethical egoism, utilitarianism, Kantianism, deontology, and virtue ethics. We will also briefly consider some problems at the intersection of normative ethics and other branches of philosophy, such as metaethics, the field that considers where morality comes from and how moral knowledge could be possible; and practical ethics, the field that analyzes specific moral issues like climate change and our treatment of nonhuman animals.

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 3633 Bioethics — Dr. Gardner

Bioethics is the study of ethical issues arising from the biological and medical sciences. It includes questions about how health care providers ought to treat their patients, questions about what topics research scientists ought to study and the methods that they may permissibly use, and questions about how we should relate to present and future generations of human and non-human life. This course will equip you with some of the concepts, theories, and information you will need in order to formulate and justify answers to these and related questions.

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 3693 Ethics of Communication — Dr. Auxter

In this course we will cover themes and topics in philosophical discussions of the ethics of communication. We will read both classical and contemporary texts in the Western, African, and Latin American traditions.

Topics: Across cultures, languages, geographies, and histories, what counts as communication? What is the significance of dialogue? What are the limits of the universe of discourse? What are the parameters and minimum conditions of meaningful communication? Do souls communicate with souls across the boundaries of life and death? Is communication only human to human? Animal to animal? How do answers to these questions affect choices we make about the possibilities for interaction and the development of relations? What values are at stake? How are choices defined?

Requirements for the course: There will be a midterm essay test and two essays written in a final examination in the classroom. Each of the three essays will count as one third of the grade. This course counts toward the Humanities (H) general education requirement.

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 3700 Philosophy of Religion — Dr. Witmer

The philosophy of religion can range over many different areas, including issues in epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. Instead of a broad survey, however, in this course we focus on what is arguably the most fundamental question in this area, namely, whether or not there exists something deserving of the title “God.” The course is structured around a fictional dialogue between a theist, an atheist, and an agnostic (Alter and Howell, The God Dialogues) as well as supplementary papers (provided in a coursepack to be purchased from Cognella at that supplement parts of the dialogue. Topics include the relationship between God, value and morality; arguments from design (teleological arguments), including both classical biological and more contemporary “fine-tuning” arguments; cosmological or “first cause” arguments; the infamous ontological argument (which aims to show just from the definition of God that he must exist); the significance of religious experience and claims about miracles; the problem of evil as a reason to be an atheist; the idea that we might “bet” on God’s existence as per Pascal’s Wager; and the nature of faith. By the end of the course you should have a substantial understanding of the most important lines of argument concerning the existence of God.

Requirements will include at least two argumentative papers and frequent writing exercises (which are graded for effort). Other requirements (including possible exams, participation requirements, and so on) will depend on the format of the course (whether it is online or in person, which depends on the course of the current pandemic).

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 3930 Special Topics: Latin American Philosophy — Dr. Auxter

In this course, we examine works by two philosophers who reject an assumption often made in the United States and other Western countries about Latin American philosophers. The assumption is that to enter into significant debate, they must devote research and writing to commenting on philosophies originally found in European thought.

Jose Carlos Mariategui writes Seven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Reality to show there is a different, and more authentic, way to understand reality within and through the world of the indigenous people of Peru. He shows how reality is constructed according to indigenous values and why the result is more powerful and more profound than Westerners have historically believed or admitted.

Leopoldo Zea commits himself to liberating Latin America from European cultural influences. These merely promote an agenda of domination of the Latin American continent by Europe.

In The Role of the Americas in History, he outlines the nature of “The Universalizing Influence of Western Culture” and exposes European efforts to gain hegemony over countries across the Latin American continent. In “The Actual Function of Philosophy,” he recasts the mission of philosophy for a world no longer interested in either ignoring or distorting interpretations of reality that come from Latin America.

Both philosophers reject the assumption that Latin American philosophy should be limited to research and writing on philosophies and world-views originally found in Europe. They are ready for a radical break, and they say what it will take.

Requirements: There will be one essay test written in class at midterm and two essays in a final examination. Texts: Mariategui, Seven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Realit (1971), Jose Carlos Mariategui: An Anthology (2011), Zea, The Role of the Americas in History (1992)

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 3930 The Philosophy of Love and Sex — Dr. Pismenny

Love and sex are essential to human life. In this course you will be asked to reflect on the most intimate spheres of human experience, addressing questions such as what is love? What kinds of love are there? How can we distinguish between them? What is the relationship between love and reason? In what sense if any are beloveds irreplaceable? What is the relationship between love and sex? Is sexual perversion intrinsically immoral? What can transexuality tell us about gender? How does gender and sex relate to sexual orientation and romantic relationships? Is polyamory ethically superior to monogamy?

Syllabus (PDF)

4000 Level Courses

PHI 4542 Philosophy of Space and Time — Dr. Dorst

This course will explore some contemporary philosophical questions about the nature of space and time. Our approach will be informed by some of our best current physical theories, such as special and general relativity, quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics. No prior background with these physical theories will be expected, but students should be prepared to learn some of the fundamentals of these theories as part of the course. Emphasis will be placed on gaining an intuitive understanding of the theories, while requiring only a minimal amount of mathematics.

Some of our primary topics will include: the implications of special and general relativity for the nature of spacetime (e.g. the relativity of simultaneity and the resolution of the twins paradox); what quantum mechanics implies about the nature of the world’s fundamental space; how statistical mechanics might explain certain temporal asymmetries; and the interactions between a theory’s dynamical laws and spacetime geometry. Time permitting, we will also explore some additional topics like the possibility of time travel, the spatial non-locality implied by quantum mechanics, and whether causation has an inherent temporal direction.

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 4930 Special Topics: The Philosophy of Action — Dr. Ray

This is an upper-division introduction to the philosophy of action — which is concerned with the nature of actions and human agency, and such things as intending, planning and trying, the giving of reasons for action and action explanations, practical deliberation, choosing, weakness of the will, and the nature of collective action.

  • What do you do when you do? Some philosophers have thought all you can ever do is move your body. Or that maybe all we really ever do is try to do things and the rest is up to the world.
  • We are happy to think of some things that happen when when we act as expressions of our agency, but want to think of other things as merely consequences. And we think sometimes this makes a moral difference. But what is the real difference between what you do and what else happens — and does that difference fall in line with the moral distinctions we wanted to make?
  • We seem often to suffer failures of will. We mean well and intend to do one thing (eat well), but then we end up doing something else (cake!) that we ourselves think less good. What is going on in such cases? Are we just out of control? Or are we really doing what we really wanted all along? And doesn’t that make us sort of crummy? (Cake!)
  • It has been thought that we have a special kind of access to or knowledge of our own actions. What does this come to?
  • We think of actions as fundamentally explicable. But what should we say about our practice of giving explanations of our actions? How do such explanations (when we are not just making excuses for ourselves) actually relate to the doing of the things we do?

The concerns in philosophy of action are relevant to many other areas of philosophy — to the discourse on freedom of the will in metaphysics, discussions of rationality in epistemology, questions of moral responsibility in ethics, as well fundamental questions about collective will, collective action and the standing of social institutions in social and political philosophy, and, for example, the question of animal minds in philosophy of mind, and the role of the emotions in moral psychology.

Please join me for this exploration of the nature of action.

Syllabus (PDF)

PHI 4930 Animal Minds — Dr. Ross

How do animals experience the world, and how is their experience similar to and different from ours? We need to be able to answer this question for many practical and theoretical purposes- what are the limits, both scientific and philosophical, of our ability to answer it? In this course we will address questions such as: What is a mind? Which animals have minds? How can we learn about them? What kinds of emotions and thoughts do nonhuman animals have? Is language required for thought? Who is self-conscious? Can animals have moral agency?

The course is an examination of the philosophy of animal minds, and also draws from natural and social sciences: cognitive ethology and psychology. We will use a philosophical approach to examine several empirical examples and case studies, including: Cheney and Seyfarth’s ververt monkey research, Thorndike’s cat puzzle boxes, Jensen’s research into humans and chimpanzees and the ultimatum game, Pankseep and Burgdorf’s research on rat laughter, and Clayton and Emery’s research on memory and metamemory in scrub-jays.

Syllabus (PDF)