BA (First Class Honors, with Distinction) Philosophy, Politics & Economics, University of Oxford, 2014
Ethics, especially: love; personal relationships (including the dynamics of relationship abuse); relationships between humans and non-human animals; animal ethics; moral psychology; free will and moral responsibility; morality and partiality; meaning in life; the relation between ethics, therapy, and “self-help” literature.
Social and political philosophy, especially: philosophy of labor and labor relations; conceptions of freedom and autonomy; conceptions of exploitation, domination, and coercion; alienation; Marx (esp. the early Marx); feminism and gender.
Committee: Martha Nussbaum (chair), Agnes Callard, Matthias Haase
Provisional title: Loving Dogs
Brief description: Motivated by my love for my dog, Gracie, I develop an account of love that can make sense of our love for animals (in contrast to those philosophers who either ignore or deny this possibility), with a specific focus on our love for dogs. Indeed, I will argue, the concept of love that has interested contemporary philosophers (and which is often taken to apply only to persons), is best understood as, distinctively, in the first instance, an attitude that attends a certain kind of intimate interaction. The possibility of love thus depends on the possibility of mutual engagement in the relevant kind of relationship; an engagement which, I argue, is possible with dogs.
- Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights, Ben Laurence, Spring 2018
- Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology, Ben Callard, Autumn 2018
- Self-Creation as a Philosophical and Literary Phenomenon, Agnes Callard, Spring 2019
- Justice at Work, Ben Laurence, Winter 2020 & Winter 2021
- Topics in Medical Ethics, Dan Brudney, Autumn 2020
PHIL 21411 Love and Personhood
Is love, in the deepest sense of the word, something that occurs only between “persons”? Contemporary philosophers often think so. And they tend to understand “personhood”, moreover, in terms of the possession of the special psychological capacity for self-reflective reasoning. But this conception of personhood notably excludes some cognitively disabled humans, infant humans, and non-human animals from the category of “persons”. This raises the questions: who can love, and who can be loved? To answer these questions, we will put some influential philosophical conceptions of love and “personhood” into conversation with other contemporary philosophical work, as well as personal memoirs, literature, and film, that speak to the possibility of loving “non-persons”: infants, neonates, and fetuses; the severely cognitively disabled; and non-human animals. (A)
PHIL 23026 Topics in Animal Ethics
To what extent, and in what ways, do the fates of non-human animals matter morally, and why? And what implications does this have for how we ought to behave toward them, or in matters concerning them? In this course we will consider and evaluate a variety of philosophical perspectives on the moral status of animals, aided with up-to-date research on animal behavior, emotion, and cognition. We will apply this philosophical thought to pressing issues in animal ethics, such as: factory farming; the use of animals in research; the ethics of keeping pets; and the legal and political status of animals. Readings will include works by Peter Singer, Tom Regan, Cora Diamond, Martha Nussbaum, Christine Korsgaard, Frans de Waal, Marc Bekoff, Gary Francione, Elisa Aaltola, Barbara Smutts, Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka. (A)
PHIL 29200-03/29300-03 Junior/Senior Tutorial
Topic: Loving Animals
In this course we will read and discuss texts in the contemporary philosophical literature on love, asking questions such as What is the nature of love? What is the relation between love and morality? Do we love for reasons? Who can love? and What are the possible objects of love? Our overarching theme, though, will be one that has been largely neglected in this literature: loving animals. Alongside the philosophical literature on love, we will read/watch and discuss (scientific and anecdotal) studies in the emotional lives of animals, memoirs of human-animal relationships, and documentary films focusing on bonds between humans and animals. Drawing on these materials, we will take a critical approach to the mainstream philosophy of love and ask: Is it possible to love an animal? Can animals love (you back)? and What can love tell us about animals?
Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to philosophy majors. Intensive-Track Majors should reach out to the instructor to be enrolled manually. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.