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Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the subject of nonhuman animals and how they have been understood or conceived of in philosophy. A wide range of primary and secondary sources (Western and non-Western) will be examined, starting with philosophers from ancient Greece and culminating with contemporary philosophical writers. This course will examine the concept of the animal itself, the nature of animal minds, the importance of species membership, and the relationship between human and non-human animals. It will also discuss applied issues related to animal welfare, wildlife, agriculture, experimentation, and the environment. This course shall also look at animals in terms of ethical and social/political considerations, including feminist theory. As such, this course addresses the ‘animal question’ from multiple philosophical perspectives, including elements from metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, ethics, and social/political theory, and applies them to practical and pressing issues involving the use of animals for human purposes.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the learner should be able to:

1. Describe and compare ancient and historical views of animals in both Western and non-Western philosophy.

2. Identify, explain and understand issues, concepts and arguments related to the study of animal minds, consciousness, self-awareness, beliefs, etc.

3. Explicate and analyze the main arguments of at least two philosophers in short written critiques.

4. Examine and critically evaluate the arguments of philosophers on the moral value of animals, social and political views of animals and issues of justice.

5. Apply various views on animals to practical issues involving the use of animals in such things as agriculture, experimentation and research.

6. Explain of how philosophical topics related to animals are approached in both analytic and continental traditions.

7. Engage in debates about animal welfare, animal ethics and the use of animals in various industries.

8. Discuss and debate focused questions on the assigned readings and topics within online discussion forums.

Course Topics

  • History of Animals in Philosophy
  • Animal Minds, Consciousness and Beliefs
  • Species: Definitions, Concepts and Issues
  • Animality and the Animal Other
  • Animals and Feminist Philosophy
  • Animals and Ethics
  • Animals and Social/Political Philosophy

Additional Requirements

Pre-requisite(s): 2.00 credits or (1 of PHIL*1000, PHIL*1010, PHIL*1050)


Assessment Item Weight Learning Outcomes
Quizzes Online  20% (best 4/5)  1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 
Discussions Online  15% (3 x 5%)  1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 
Written Assignments  30% (2 x 15%)  1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 
On Campus Final Exam 35%  1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 
Total  100%  1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8


Technical Requirements

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*Course details are subject to change.


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Section Title
Animals in Philosophy
September 10, 2020 to December 04, 2020
Contact Hours
Delivery Options
Course Fee(s)
Domestic Tuition Fee (0.5 units) $683.39 Click here to get more information
International Tuition Fee (0.5 units) $2,748.00 Click here to get more information
Available for Credit
0.5 units
Section Notes
Note:  If you are in a degree program at the University of Guelph, please DO NOT register using the link above.  You must register through WebAdvisor.
Section Materials
  • Textbook (Unconfirmed) (Mandatory) No textbook required.
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