PHI 3931H: Humans and Animals Honors seminar

Spring 2001

Credit: 3 hrs
Time/Location: Tues/Thurs 10-11:15 AM, Comm 110
Instructors: Dr. Ronnie Hawkins, Colbourn 411K, ofc hrs TTh 12:30-1:30, W 12:30-3PM
                    Dr. Jennifer Mundale, Colbourn 411 L, ofc hrs TTh 11:30-12:45, F 1-3:30 PM

Course Description
This course will provide students with an opportunity to attain an understanding of the relationships between humans and animals in a broad perspective. The following are some of the major topics we will be addressing: historical and contemporary views on animal intelligence and cognition, ethical issues concerning our relations with animals, and some contemporary perspectives, pro and con, on controversial issues regarding animals in agriculture, medical research, and the environment.

Course Objectives
By the end of the course, students should have a deeper, more scientifically and philosophically informed understanding of the importance and complexity of human-animal relationships. They should also have a wider sense of how we have traditionally regarded the role and status of animals and what contemporary views toward animals are, as well as the capacity for developing a responsible normative view of their own.

There will be 3 exams, mixed format, given approximately at the ends of week 5 and week 10 and during final exam week, each counting 20% of the course grade. Class participation, including active contribution to classroom discussion, indicative of familiarity with the day's readings, as well as completion of several short take-home or in-class written assignments, will count 20%. The final 20% will be based on a project investigating some aspect of the human-animal relationship, to be explored in greater detail either individually or in small groups, involving some out-of-the-classroom experience, library and on-line research, and/or in-depth philosophical exploration of a topic; projects will be written up individually and presented to the class either individually or by the group (with each individual student responsible for a part of the group presentation). Grading will be on a 100-point scale, with 90-100=A, 80-89=B, 70-79=C, 60-69=D, below 60=F. Students will be responsible for having read the day's assignment before coming to class so that much of class time can be devoted to discussion. Considerable feedback on the students' understanding of the course material will be offered during class and as written comments on take-home and in-class assignments. Videotapes, where appropriate, will be shown (or segments thereof) to further stimulate class discussion and deeper insights into particular issues. Additional information on daily assignments will be made available as the course progresses, and small deviations from this general syllabus may occur, so students are strongly advised to attend class regularly in order to stay current on material under consideration.

Course Texts
Peter Singer, Animal Liberation, 2d ed., Avon Books, 1990. Additional reading materials will be required and will be made available either through library reserve, electronic reserve, or as a course packet through the bookstores.

Course Outline

Week   Dates    Topic

1        Jan 9        Introduction: Perceptions
          Jan 11     of Humans & Animals

2        Jan 16    Views of Minds
          Jan 18

3        Jan 23    Animal Minds:
          Jan 25    Historical Views

4        Jan 30    Animal Minds:
          Feb 1    Contemporary views

5        Feb 6     Animal Minds .
          Feb 8    First Exam

6        Feb 13    Ethics and Animals:
          Feb 15    Ethical Theories

7        Feb 20    Ethics and Animals:
          Feb 22    Animal Ethics

8        Feb 27    Animals and Society:
          Mar 1     Animals and Science

9        Mar 6    Animals and Society:
          Mar 8    Animals in Agriculture


10      Mar 20    Hunting and Zoos
          Mar 22   Second Exam

11      Mar 27    Humans and Animals
          Mar 29    in the Ecosphere

12    Apr 3     Animals and Environmental Philosophy
        Apr 5

13    Apr 10    Human and Animals:
        Apr 12    New Relationships?

14    Apr 17    Student Presentations
        Apr 19    Student Presentations

FINAL EXAM Thursday, April 26, 10:00-12:50