PHL 442 Ethics and Animals

Course Code: PHL 442

PHIL 442:001 ETHICS AND ANIMALS SPRING 2018

TIME: M-W, 3:00-4:20

PLACE: 1255 ANTHONY HALL

INSTRUCTOR: PAUL B. THOMPSON

OFFICE: 332 NATURAL RESOURCES

HOURS: MONDAY 2-5 OR BY APPOINTMENT

E-MAIL: THOMP649@MSU.EDU

ADDITIONAL CONTACT INFORMATION: JULIE ECKINGER, 517 432 0317 JECKINGR@MSU.EDU

OVERVIEW: This course has been designed as an accelerated introduction to philosophical literature the nature and basis of human ethical responsibilities to non-human animals. A very large literature on ethics and animals has been created since 1970, as well as a significant body of research on the cognitive capabilities of individuals from many non-human species. In addition, there have been significant changes in standards for many types of animal use including laboratory research, food animals and wildlife. This semester, the syllabus includes readings that focus on the mental life of non-humans, and on various philosophical views that articulate how human beings differ from other species in ways that are morally significant. The course does not presume prior coursework or specific reading in philosophy; however, it does require advanced reading and critical reasoning skills. It has been designed for self-motivated students who believe that acquiring competency in the literature of animal ethics is an important personal, professional or educational objective.

CLASS REQUIREMENTS: This is a classic “read and discuss” class. Many of the readings for this class are quite challenging, and like all philosophical texts, they are open to multiple interpretations. Students should be prepared to spend a significant amount of time outside of class in reading the assigned materials. Class time will be spent primarily in discussing assigned texts with the following learning objectives:

1) understand the claims being made by our authors, and be able to reproduce them in your own words;

2) develop a grasp of when and how claims from different sources are compatible and where they are contradictory;

3) identify how the readings reflect broad or more general commitments about the nature and function of ethics, on the one hand, or on the nature and experience of non-humans, on the other;

4) be able to suggest how the viewpoints articulated in the readings apply to various areas of human practice with respect to animals.

Although there are a range of interpretations for the readings that are plausible ways of responding to these four objectives, this range is not infinitely flexible: It is possible to get things totally wrong. A fifth learning objective for the class is negative: don’t have a wrong understanding of the texts.

In addition to reading and participating in discussions that are intended to facilitate learning, the class will be structure with the following writing requirements for undergraduates:

  1. Non-Graded Homework: Several non-graded assignments will be made that will need to completed outside of class.
  2. Out of Class Writing Assignments: Three (4) assignments, 1 & 2 worth 5 points each, #3 worth 10 points. Out of class writing assignments should be typed 12-point, double-spaced and free of grammatical or spelling errors. Due Dates: Jan. 24; Feb. 19; Mar. 28.
  3. Multiple Choice Quizzes: Five multiple choice quizzes will be given worth five (5) points each. You can drop the lowest grade for quizzes. If you miss class on a day that a quiz is given, that counts as your drop.
  4. Mid-term Examinations: One at thirty (30) points Feb. 28. The examination will combine short-essay interpretation questions based on specific passages from assigned readings, and longer essay questions on philosophical themes in the readings. All questions will be taken verbatim from a study sheet that will be distributed at least one week prior to the examination.
  5. Final Examination: Thirty (30) points. The final examination will combine short-essay interpretation questions based on specific passages from assigned readings, and longer essay questions on philosophical themes in the readings. All questions will be taken verbatim from a study sheet that will be distributed at least one week prior to the examination. The final exam period for this class is Wednesday, May 2, 2018 5:45pm - 7:45pm in 1255 Anthony Hall.
  6. Students with graduate status will be expected to complete the three out of class writing assignments and write a course research paper. Research projects should be original works on a topic that would be suitable for publication in a scholarly journal, and may or may not include an empirical component. Please schedule a meeting to discuss your project with me. Students should prepare a précis of approximately one page with a bibliography of at least five items, due March 14 (earlier is OK, too), and should schedule a meeting with the instructor to discuss the project not later than March 30. Final papers of between 20 and 30 pages are due at the final examination period.

GRADES: Grades for undergraduates will be based on class attendance (see below) and on points earned for writing assignments. The attendance grade is a Pass/Fail component. Students who miss more than eight classes will receive a grade of 0.0 for the course, regardless of performance on written work. Students who miss six (6) classes will be subject to a penalty of 10 points deducted from their raw score (see below). Students who pass the attendance requirement will receive a course grade based on the following formula: 90-100 Points = 4.0; 85-89.9 Points =3.5; 80-84.9 Points = 3.0; 75-79.9 Points = 2.5; 70-74.9 Points = 2.0; 65-69.9 Points = 1.5; 60-64.9 Points = 1.0; 0—59.9Points = 0.0 Points are earned through completing the writing assignments listed above.

Graduate students must complete and receive a total grade of 16 or better on the three out of class writing assignments. This will be treated as a Pass/Fail component. Graduate student course grades will be based on a précis and bibliography of 2-3 pages and a term paper of not less than 20 and not more than 30 pages in length, dealing with a topic to be agreed upon. Acceptable topics must address the theme of animal ethics and must deal substantively with at least one of the authors included in the syllabus. Students following the graduate student guidelines should schedule an out of class meeting with the instructor prior to March 2 to discuss possible paper topics. Précis is due March 14; Final paper is due May 6, 2018.

ATTENDANCE AND NON-GRADED ASSIGNMENTS: Attending class sessions and completing non-graded work is important. Students who miss a total of six (6) or seven (7) classes or non-graded assignments will be subject to a penalty of 10 points (see above). Students who miss eight (8) or more classes during the semester will receive an “F” (0.0), irrespective of their written work. (Failure to complete non-graded assignments is not subject to this second policy. Students who have excused absences for either the mid-term or final exam should contact the instructor). These grading policies are intended to accommodate normal illnesses, university sponsored activities, important life events and other excused absences. If you have special circumstances that will cause you to have more than six (6) excused absences, contact the instructor as soon as practicably possible to determine whether it will be possible to make an exception to the policy.

TEXTS: The following texts have been ordered for this course. All are available in paper. All are required.

SY MONTGOMERY, THE SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS, NEW YORK: 2015, ATRIA PAPERBACK

FRANS DE WAAL, ARE WE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW HOW SMART ANIMALS ARE? NEW YORK: 2016, NORTON.

JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU, DISCOURSE ON INEQUALITY, NEW YORK: 1984, PENGUIN BOOKS.

PAUL B. THOMPSON, FROM FIELD TO FORK: FOOD ETHICS FOR EVERYONE. NEW YORK: 2015, OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS.

READING ASSIGNMENTS: ASSIGNMENTS ARE SUBJECT TO REVISION AS THE SEMESTER DEVELOPS. I WILL BE FILLING IN THE GAPS IN THIS READING LIST AS WE GO ALONG. CHECK SYLLABUS POSTED ON THE COURSE D2L SITE FOR UPDATES.

DATE REQUIRED READING ASSIGNMENTS

1/8 Read the Course Syllabus
1/10 Nagel, “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” D2L
1/17 Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus, pp. 1-124.
1/22 Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus, pp. 125-244
1/24 Descartes on Animals, D2L
1/29 Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality, Preface & Part II
1/31 de Waal, Are We Smart Enough 1-94
2/5 Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality Part I
2/7 Heidegger “Animals are poor in world”
2/12 Carruthers, “Brute Experience,” Allen, “Animal Pain,” on D2L
2/14 Davidson, Rational Animals on D2L
2/19 de Waal, Are We Smart Enough 95-204
2/21 Tulving, Episodic memory and autonoesis: Uniquely human on D2L; de Waal, 205-234
2/26 de Waal, Are We Smart Enough 235-275
2/28 Mid-Term Examination
3/12 Thompson, From Field to Fork pp. 130-158
3/14 Singer, Animal Liberation at 30 on D2L
3/19 Regan, Utilitarianism, Vegetarianism and animal rights on D2L; Singer, Animal liberation or animal rights on D2L
3/21 Diamond, Eating Meat and Eating People, on D2L
3/26 Oliver, What Is Wrong with Animal Rights? on D2L
3/28 Harari, Industrial Farming is one of the worst crimes on D2L Warkentin, Dis/integrating animals on D2L
4/2 Thompson, Livestock Welfare and the Ethics of Producing Meat 4/4 Fraser, Understanding Animal Welfare; Sandoe and Appleby, Philosophical Debate on the Nature of Well-Being
4/9 Donnelly and Nolan, Science, Ethics and Animals
4/11 Robinson, Finding alternatives & Choe Smith, Confronting ethical permissibility in animal research
4/16 Palmer, Climate Change, Ethics and the Wildness of Wild Animals
4/18 Tom Thorp, Eating Wolves
4/23 No reading assigned: take a day off
4/25 Martin Drenthen, Fatal Attraction Final Exam: Wednesday, May 2 2018 5:45pm - 7:45pm in 1255 Anthony Hall

Final Exam: Wednesday, May 2 2018 5:45pm - 7:45pm in 1255 Anthony Hal

MANDATORY REPORTING ON RELATIONSHIP VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL MISCONDUCT: All non-student employees of Michigan State University are required to report incidents of or information relating to relationship and sexual violence to the Office of Institutional Equity and MSU Police. They are required to report incidents of or information relating to sexual harassment to the Office of Institutional Equity. Your course instructors may not exercise discretion or judgment on these matters. Further information on this policy is available at: http://titleix.msu.edu/_files/documents/mandatory-reporting-guide.pdf

HONORS OPTION: The “honors option” is a way for student to receive honors credit for a non-honors section course. As specified on the Honors College website, http://honorscollege.msu.edu/offeringhonors-work this generally involve non-graded project or something equivalent. For this course, I propose to organize three extra meetings to discuss additional readings for students wishing to receive honors credit. For students who are eligible for honors credit and who participate in all three of these extra meetings by coming prepared and contributing to the discussion, I will complete the paperwork needed to secure honors credit. Extra sessions will be open to all students who wish to participate without regard to your eligibility for honors credit. If you would like to participate in this activity, please send an e-mail to BOTH of the following addresses by Jan. 22: thomp649@msu.edu and jeckingr@msu.edu Indicate that you would like to be included in the honors option for PHI 442. Julie will find a time outside of class when we can meet.


Instructor

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