Last updated 11/15/2023 — accessed:

PHIL 299C — Philosophy of Science of Nonhuman Emotions

Fall 2023 Syllabus and Schedule

NOTE: THIS VERSION OF THE SYLLABUS IS TENTATIVE AND WILL NOT BE FINALIZED UNTIL THE END OF THE FIRST WEEK OF CLASSES. SOME READING ITEMS WILL BE ADJUSTED BEYOND THAT TOO.

Meets F 10-1 at SH 5617

(Prof.) Colin Allen <colinallen@ucsb.edu>
Office: South Hall 5719
Office hours: Tue 10-10:50, Fri 1-2, and by appointment
Canvas site: https://ucsb.instructure.com/courses/14529

Course Description

In this course, we will survey scientific accounts of emotion and interrogate their philosophical edges. We will be particularly concerned with attempts to study emotions in nonhuman animals, but will also include a module on emotions and artificial intelligence. We will examine the contrast between dimensional and discrete accounts of emotions as separate systems, looking at the interplay between research on humans and that on other animals. We will address the extent to which scientific questions about emotions can be addressed while remaining neutral about any associated conscious experiences, as well as being open to revisions in working definitions and the introduction of new methods of assessment.

Learning Objectives

Students are expected to gain and strengthen their understanding of how emotions have been conceptualized and how those conceptions apply to empirical projects investigating emotions in nonhuman animals and artificial technology.

Required Materials

Grading Basis

Students taking the course for a letter grade will do do three writing assignments this quarter and give a classroom presentation. For each assignment, students will be given comments and a projected final grade assuming continued development of the ideas in subsequent assignments, with the final grade being determined by how well the final assignment meets or exceeds the projection.

Assignments are structured as follows:

Schedule of Readings, Topics, and Major Assignments

The reading schedule is approximate. If we need more time on any material it may be pushed to the following week.

READINGS HAVE BEEN UPLOADED TO CANVAS. SOMETIMES LINKS BREAK. IF SOMETHING CAN'T BE REACHED, PLEASE LET ME KNOW IMMEDIATELY.

DateTopicReadings / Assignments
Week 1
Fri Sep 29 Motivating Emotions • Bekoff 2000 Animal Emotions: Exploring Passionate Natures [Canvas Link]
• de Waal 2011 What is an animal emotion? [Canvas Link]
• LeDoux 2021 What Might Emotions be Like in Other Animals? [Canvas Link]
Week 2
Friday Oct 06Theories of (Human) Emotions • Russell, JA (1980) A Circumplex Model of Affect. [Canvas Link]
• Ekman 1992 “An argument for basic emotions” [Canvas Link]
• Prinz, J. (2004) “Which emotions are basic?” [Canvas Link]
Week 3
Fri Oct 13 Emotions and Cognition • Clore and Ortony (2000) “Cognition in Emotion: Always, Sometimes, or Never?” [Canvas Link]
• Barrett (2017) The theory of constructed emotion: an active inference account of interoception and categorization [Canvas Link]

First writing assignment due
Week 4
Fri Oct 20 More basic emotions • Panksepp (2005). Affective consciousness: Core emotional feelings in animals and humans. [Canvas Link]
• Panksepp, J., 2011. The basic emotional circuits of mammalian brains: do animals have affective lives? [Canvas Link]
• Berridge, K. 2018 Evolving Concepts of Emotion and Motivation [Canvas Link]
• Carvalho, G.B., and Damasio, A. (2021). Interoception and the origin of feelings: A new synthesis. [Canvas Link]
Week 5
Fri Oct 27Skeptical Returns [DAEHWI] • LeDoux, J.E., and Brown, R. (2017). A higher-order theory of emotional consciousness. [Canvas Link]
[GAVIN] • Ortony (2022) Are All “Basic Emotions” Emotions? A Problem for the (Basic) Emotions Construct. [Canvas Link]
Week 6
Fri Nov 03 Empirical animals [JESS] • Anderson and Adolphs (2014). A Framework for Studying Emotions Across the Species [Canvas Link]
[TIFFANI] • Mendl et al. 2022 Bridging the Gap: Human Emotions and Animal Emotions [Canvas Link]
• Nelson et al. 2023 Joyful by nature: approaches to investigate the evolution and function of joy in non-human animals [Canvas Link]
Week 7
Fri Nov 10 Catch up reading tba
Second writing assignment due
Week 8
Fri Nov 17 Machines 1 • Simon, H. (1967) Motivational and emotional controls of cognition. [Canvas Link]
[LEE] • Picard, R. (2001) What does it mean for a machine to “have” emotions? [Canvas Link]
• Arbib & Fellous (2004). Emotions: from brain to robot. [Canvas Link]
Thanksgiving Week
Fri Nov 24 No meeting!
Week 9
Fri Dec 01 Machines 2 [MELODY]• Wallach and Allen (2009) Suprarational capacities. Chapter 10 from Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong [Canvas Link]
[YUCHEN] • Man and Damasio (2023) Homeostasis and soft robotics in the design of feeling machines [Canvas Link]
Week 10
Fri Dec 08 Writing workshopExchange drafts by Wednesday Dec 6
Finals Week
Fri Dec 15No class Final writing assignment due


The following items are generic to any class.

Missed Assignments

You may request to make up for missed exams or other assignments only for University-recognized officially excused absences:

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