Phil 4084 Fall 2006
Animals and Philosophy of Mind (Fall 2006)
Professor: Dr. Kristin Andrews
Office: S420 Ross
Office Hours: 3-4 Monday & Wednesday
Email: please send email from within WebCT so that it doesn't end up in my overzealous spam filter
In this course we will look at some of the philosophical issues about mind and cognition arising from the existence of nonhuman animals. We will examine ontological issues about whether nonhuman animals have minds, beliefs, or concepts. From a philosophy of science perspective we will look at methodological approaches to studying animal minds. And we will look at four issues in philosophy that can be informed by what we know about animal behavior and physiology, including: language, concepts, morality, and theory of mind/social cognition. The study we do will be backed up with empirical information about animal cognitive capacities, and to augment that empirical knowledge you will act as a fly on the wall and use behavioral observation methods to take data on one animal for three hours. Philosophers must not always remain locked in their rooms.
Texts: Most of the readings will be available on the course WebCT site. You are also required to obtain the following books, both available at the bookstore in York Lanes:
Donald Griffin Animal Minds: Beyond Cognition to Consciousness
Colin Allen & Marc Bekoff Species of Mind: The Philosophy and Biology of Cognitive Ethology
Weekly questions 25%
Take-home exam 25%
Behavioral observation & presentation 25%
Weekly questions: Each week you must mail me from within WebCT three questions about the reading by Sunday evening. These questions will be used to focus the lecture and discussion on Monday. The questions are credit/no credit. If you do not send me three questions within WebCT by midnight Sunday, you will get a 0 for that week, regardless of any situations that have presented themselves. No make-ups. And if the questions don't demonstrate that you did the reading, you will get a 0 for that week. You are free to send me your questions as far in advance of the class as you like.
Paper: Each student will write an 8-10 page paper on one of the contemporary critics of animal belief (Stich, Davidson, or Dennett). This paper will be an analytical philosophy paper, in which you defend a thesis and critique or defend the claims of one of the authors. You will be expected to use the tools and the knowledge that you have gained in subsequent weeks when writing your paper. More instruction will be given in class.
Take-home exam: The final exam will consist of several take-home questions that you are to answer. The exam will be handed out in class, and will be due December 11. You must turn in your final exam within WebCT, as will be explained. Late exams will be penalized 1/2 letter grade per day. Please don't turn in a late exam.
Behavioral observation & presentation: Each student will be required to research a particular species of animal, and to give the class a short PowerPoint presentation on the cognitive capacities of that animal. The species should be the same as the one you have done behavioral observation with, and you should present any conclusions or questions you developed from the behavior observation during the presentation. The species type must be verified with me first, so as to not have too much repetition. (Observing your dog or cat doesn't count. I expect people to go to the zoo or a marine park or the woods to do their behavioral observation.) The presentations will last 10-15 minutes.
Plagiarism: Plagiarized papers will be reported to the Dean's office, and I will recommend that the penalty for plagiarism be failing the course. I take plagiarism very seriously, and I am very good at finding plagiarized papers, so don't be tempted. You are required to know the information on plagiarism presented at York's tutorial on academic integrity, which is available at: http://www.yorku.ca/tutorial/academic_integrity/
Not knowing what counts as plagiarism is not an excuse.
This schedule is tentative and subject to change. I will post any updates to this schedule on WebCT
©2003 Kristin Andrews