Last updated 11/15/2023 — accessed:

PHIL 299C — Philosophy of Science of Nonhuman Emotions

Fall 2023 Syllabus and Schedule


Meets F 10-1 at SH 5617

(Prof.) Colin Allen <>
Office: South Hall 5719
Office hours: Tue 10-10:50, Fri 1-2, and by appointment
Canvas site:

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.


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

Missed Assignments

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

Statement about Academic Misconduct

Students in this course are obliged to comply with UCSB's Academic Integrity Policies. Any student suspected of violating this obligation for any reason during the quarter will be referred via the Academic Integrity procedures detailed at the above link. When you submit assignments with your name on them in this course, you are signifying that the work contained therein is all yours, unless otherwise cited or referenced. Any ideas or materials taken from another source for either written or oral use must be fully acknowledged. If you are unsure about the expectations for completing an assignment or taking a test or exam, be sure to seek clarification beforehand. Use of ChatGPT or similar generative AI products will be discussed in class, and may not be used unless you are explicitly given permission to do so, and never without explicit acknowledgment of its use.

Diversity and Inclusion

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and UCSB's Disabled Students Program for information about accomodations and services.

The University of California, in accordance with applicable federal and state laws and University policy, prohibits discrimination against or harassment of any person at the University on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, medical condition (cancer-related or genetic characteristics), ancestry, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, or age. For more information see

I ask that everyone in the class strive to help ensure that other members of this class can learn in a supportive and respectful environment. If there are instances of the aforementioned issues, you may contact the Title IX Office, by calling 805-893-2701 or visiting You may also choose to report this to a faculty/staff member; they may also be required to communicate about such issues to the University’s Office of Diversity and Incusion. If you wish to maintain complete confidentiality, you may also contact University Counseling & Psychological Services .

Statement on Classroom Recording

To ensure the free and open discussion of ideas, students may not record classroom lectures, discussion and/or activities without the advance written permission of the instructor, and any such recording properly approved in advance can be used solely for the student’s own private use.

Materials provided for the course may be protected by copyright. United States copyright law, 17 USC section 101, et seq., in addition to University policy and procedures, prohibit unauthorized duplication or retransmission of course materials. See Library of Congress Copyright Office and the University Copyright Policy.