This is the course website for PHIL/CFA 3377 at Southern Methodist University. Contact:

Monday, October 5, 2015

Utilitarianism and Animals

  • Food reports due October 16 (see food report tab above)
  • We will have 4-5 more reading quizzes by the end of the semester. I will announce a few of the quizzes ahead of time.
  • Save that date:  November 11, 6 pm -- Dr. John Pippin speaking at SMU (attend for credit)
  • Also:  November 6 (during class)-- speaker from SMU's research compliance office

Friday, October 2, 2015

Utilitarianism and Animals

See the ethics powerpoint for today's topics.  We had a quiz on Singer.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Do animals have rights? (debate)

Next time--Peter Singer in TAER.
Food reports due on Oct. 16 -- see tab above.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Do animals have rights?

Answer key for Midterm I is at the tab above.
Regan, annotated

Friday, September 25, 2015

Do animals have rights?

Next week we'll read two giants of the animal rights movement--Tom Regan and Peter Singer.  Keep up with the readings!

Ethics powerpoint.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015

From Minds to Ethics

  1. Not just extending human attributes to animals, but over-extending.
  2. Good example: vet says your close-to-death cat is contemplating his mortality.
  3. Not a good example: vet says your close-to-death cat is feeling tired.

Quiz (answer all--10 minutes)
  1. Give an example of anthropomorphism in Tolstoy's story "Strider: the story of a horse."
  2. Give a second example of anthropomorphism in the story. (This needs to be complete different from your first example.)
  3. What's one example from the story of Tolstoy being insightful or realistic about the state of mind of a horse?
  4. What is one major moral message conveyed by the story?
  5. What happens to Strider at the end of the story? 
Strider: The Story of a Horse
  • Published in 1886, after War and Peace and Anna Karenina.
  • Tolstoy was a wealthy landowner and successful author
  • He was a vegetarian, a pacifist, an advocate for the poor 
Midterm Questions?

Midterm advice
  • Prepare carefully in advance
  • Must use all sources--readings, powerpoint, notes, videos
  • Use glossary in TAM, but also find terms in text
  • #3 -- which experts in the video have which attitudes?
  • #4 -- Explaining to someone outside class.  Explain fully, using pertinent examples (e.g. distracted driving and blindsight).
  • #5, 7, 9-- Explaining experiments -- prepare to explain efficiently.  Use TAM and powerpoint.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Morality and Reason

  • Read Tolstoy's short story "Strider: the Story of a Horse" (WEB) for Friday. We will have a quiz and discussion about it.
  • We will also discuss the midterm that's on Monday.
  • The midterm questions are at the tab above. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Language and Communication

Philosophy brochure
  • Clarification--those philosophy majors applying to medical school successfully are taking all the recommended science courses PLUS philosophy.  
  • Why does philosophy help?  See testimonials below and more here. 
  • After graduating in 2009, I went to medical school at Johns Hopkins and now I am a resident physician in Pathology at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. I think that studying Philosophy uniquely prepared me for this career both in practice and in research because it cultivated an ability to dissect ideas and models of thinking (this as opposed to rote memorization). Peter McCaffrey ’09
  •  I am currently a practicing physician. I can absolutely tell you that my philosophy studies at SMU have been invaluable to my personal and professional development and continue as I move forward. Todd Stewart ’92
  • I have always found my studies in philosophy extremely important throughout my career in medical research. After my residency in Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern/Parkland Hospital, I spent 10 years 1973–1983 at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, doing epidemiological research. In 1983 I returned on the faculty at UT Southwestern to start a new Epidemiology Division within the Department of Internal Medicine, which I have headed since 1983. Basically my philosophy studies taught me how to think critically and particularly how to analyze a philosophical paradox, which I find commonly in medical research as well as in public health policy. Robert Haley ’67
Friday:  discuss Tolstoy, "Strider: the story of a horse" (quiz?) AND review for midterm
  1. What anthropomorphic traits does Tolstoy give to Strider (the horse)? 
  2. Does Tolstoy seem to have any special insight into horses?  What parts of the story are insightful (if any)?  What about the castration chapter?
  3. What is the moral message of this story?

Friday, September 11, 2015


Consider becoming a philosophy major (or at least a minor)!

  • See lecture powerpoint

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Friday, September 4, 2015

Do animals feel pain? Which do, which don't?

  • For next time MAKE SURE you read "Consider the Lobster" in WEB. Otherwise you won't prepared to listen to the debate.
  • The first meeting of the undergraduate philosophy club is on Tuesday Sept. 8 at 5 pm in Hyer 204 (this room). 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Animal Consciousness

  • Voice of Animals meeting tonight.  6:00 Hughes Trigg Atrium.
  • Remind me to take attendance!
  • Overdue for a quiz.  Use PDF if you haven't obtained book.
  • Perfect understanding of book not expected.  
  • A reading quiz on any given day covers the reading assignment for that day.  For example, a reading quiz on Friday 9/4 would cover just the reading on the syllabus under "Friday 9/4". 
  • You need access to the WEB readings for next week
  • Continue with powerpoint today.

Monday, August 31, 2015


  • Voice of Animals Meeting, Wed. Sept. 2, 6:00 Hughes Trigg Atrium
Today's agenda
  • Discuss debate assignments (turn in your sign-in sheet, if you haven't already)
  • Discuss debate instructions
  • Anthropomorphism--see lecture powerpoint tab

Friday, August 28, 2015

How do we know that animals have minds?

See lecture powerpoint at tab above.
Turn in debate sign-up sheet.  If you miss class today, you should send it to me by email.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Our first class meeting will be on Wednesday, August 26.  Check out the syllabus above and contact me by email if you have any questions!