MA Seminar

PHL2171S - Animal Minds

Special Notice!

The Dennett and Akins papers are now on my webpage.

Instructor: William Seager.
Office: JHB-510.
Office Hrs: Tuesdays 2:30-3:30pm; or by appointment.

Course Outline:

The course is concerned with questions about the existence and nature of animal minds, including thought and consciousness. We'll explore this topic via a series of readings, some of which are historical but most are contemporary (more or less) research.

The readings will be drawn from various sources. Those in the first half can be found online; those from the second half are drawn from R. Lurz (ed.) The Philosophy of Animal Minds, Cambridge University Press.

Evaluation: Each student is expected to lead one seminar session (should last about an hour), hand in a paper associated with the seminar and also hand in a term paper at the end of the course. Papers should be about 3000 words long. The seminar and papers will be equally weighted. Class participation is also a factor in the evaluation.

The schedule and readings will be:

Week 1 Course Introduction
Week 2 Descartes: Discourse on Method, Part 4
Huxley, T: "On the hypothesis that animals are automata, and its history" Fortnightly Review, 1874, 22: 199-245
Week 3 C. L. Morgan An Introduction to Comparative Psychology, ch. 16
E. Sober "Evolution and the problem of other minds" Journal of Philosophy, 2000, 97: 365-386.
Week 4 N. Malcolm "Thoughtless Brutes", Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 46 (September):5-20.
T. Nagel "What is it Like to be a Bat", Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50. (
Week 5 D. Davidson "Rational Animals" Dialectica, 1982, 36: 317-328.
D. Davidson "Thought and Talk" in S. Guttenplan (ed.) Mind and Language, 1975, Oxford University Press. (
Week 6 D. Dennett "Do Animals have Beliefs" in Herbert Roitblat and Jean-Arcady Meyer (eds.) Comparative Approaches to Cognitive Sciences, MIT Press, 1995, pp. 111-118. (
Kathleen Akins (1993). "A Bat Without Qualities", in Consciousness, M. Davies and G. Humphreys eds. (Oxford: Blackwells) (
Week 7 P. Carruthers "Brute Experience," Journal of Philosophy, 1989, 86: 258-269
D. Dennett: "Animal consciousness and why it matters" Social Research, 1995, 62: 691-710. (
Week 8 Eric Saidel "Attributing mental representations to animals"
Michael Rescorla: "Chrysippus's dog as a case study in non-linguistic cognition", in Lurz.
Week 9 M. Tetzlaff and G. Rey: "Systematicity and intentional realism in honeybee navigation",
P. Carruthers "Invertebrate concepts confront the generality constraint (and win)", in Lurz.
Week 10 E. Camp: "A language of baboon thought?",
J. Bermudez "Mindreading in the animal kingdom?", in Lurz.
Week 11 R. Gennaro: "Animals, consciousness, and I-thoughts",
D. DeGrazia "Self-awareness in animals", in Lurz.
Week 12 ???.

Seminar Schedule:

Week Readings Seminarian
1 (Jan. 14) Introduction to course            
2 (Jan. 21) Descartes and Huxley            
3 (Jan. 28) Morgan and Sober            
4 (Feb. 4) Malcolm and Nagel Tomas Hachard (Malcolm)
5 (Feb. 11) Davidson Kelli Serfos ("Thought and Talk") + Fahd Husain ("Rational Animals")
6 (Feb. 18) Dennett and Akins            
7 (Mar. 4) Carruthers and Dennett Steve Woodworth (Carruthers) + Rima Basu (Dennett)
8 (Mar. 11) Saidel and Rescorla Allison Glasscock (Saidel)
9 (Mar. 18) Tetzlaff+Rey and Carruthers Ljiljana Stanic (Carruthers)
10 (Mar. 25) Camp and Bermudez            
11 (Apr. 1) Gennaro and DeGrazia            
12 (Apr. 8) ???