PHIL 216
Philosophy of Animals Spring 2021
Division II
Cross-listed ENVI 216
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Class Details

Animals are and always have been part of human life. To name just a few ways: We treat animals as companions, as food, as objects of wonder in the wild, as resources to be harvested, as testing grounds for science, and as religious sacrifice. The abstract philosophical question before us is, what are animals such that they can be all these things? In this course we aim to engage that abstract question through two more focused projects. Firstly, we will try to understand the mental lives of non-human animals. Secondly, we will try to make sense of the moral dimensions of our relationship to animals. Throughout we will aim to fuse a rigorous scientific perspective with more humanistic themes and philosophical inquiry. Topics include sentience, animal cognition, language in non-human animals, empathy and evolution, the history of domestication, animal rights, cross-cultural views on animals, arguments against and for vegetarianism and veganism, the morality of zoos, hunting and fishing, and pets and happiness.
The Class: Format: seminar; This course is wholly remote and can only be taken synchronously (i.e., students will be expected to attend seminar on zoom during the scheduled time and no recording will be made).
Limit: 16
Expected: 16
Class#: 5314
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: four 3-to-4 page papers and one 8-to-10 page final paper. In addition, students are required to attend remotely at least four talks in the speaker series associated with the course. These will be during the Friday course time slot. (When there is no speaker, there will not be class during that slot, so class itself will be solely on Mondays and Wednesdays.)
Prerequisites: none, though at least one course in philosophy is recommended.
Enrollment Preferences: students with at least one previous philosophy or cognitive science course; there is no need to email the professor in advance to indicate special interest in the course.
Unit Notes: meets Contemporary Metaphysics & Epistemology requirement only if registration is under PHIL
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
PHIL 216 Division II ENVI 216 Division II
Attributes: COGS Interdepartmental Electives
ENVI Humanities, Arts + Social Science Electives
PHIL Contemp Metaphysics + Epistemology Courses

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