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Animals are and always have been part of human life. To name just a few: 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 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.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
four 4- to 5-page papers and one 10- to 12-page final paper
students with at least one previous philosophy course; there is no need to email the professor in advance to indicate interest in the course
meets Contemporary Metaphysics & Epistemology requirement only if registration is under PHIL
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
COGS Interdepartmental Electives
PHIL Contemp Metaphysics + Epistemology Courses