Animal Lecturedays in the North (Drenthe)

After the succesfull lectureday about the intelligence of dogs, last April in the province of Drenthe, there was a need for more lecturedays by me. I will return to the Nothern provinces of The Netherlands with two new lecturedays. One about the consciousness and the emotional lives of dogs and other animals. And a day about animal ethics, in which we will discuss the various points of view that exist with regard to the question of how we should treat other animals. The lecturedays are held for all those interested in enriching their knowledge about the consciousness and emotions of animals and who want to increase their knowledge and think about animal ethics. The lecturedays will be held in Zwiggelte in the province of Drenthe. We start at eleven o’clock in the morning and continue until half past five in the afternoon. As usual, the lecturedays will be enlivened by lots of pictures and interesting short videos. At the end of the day you will receive a certificate from the Institute for Animals in Philosophy and Science. Below you will find the information about both lecturedays. Note that both lecturedays will be held in the Dutch language.

See you in Drenthe this September and October!

Sunday 15 September: Lectureday “Consciousness and emotions in animals.”

Can animals feel affection and love?

Can animals feel affection and love?

During this lectureday we will address the question whether other animals besides humans have the ability to experience things like pain and pleasure. Are animals robots without subjective experiences or do animals experience sensations and other things just like us in a phenomenally conscious way? The French philosopher René Descartes claimed that nonhuman animals could not be conscious. Behaviorism in psychology also led to a taboo on the subject of consciousness in general. Even today there are still scholars who do not ascribe consciousness to animals, often based on the absence of ‘higher’ cognitive abilities and language. In contrast are positions that argue for the presence of consciousness in animals by argueing from analogy, using systematic analyses of the nervous systems and behaviours of animals. I will present the work of Jaak Panksepp on affective neuroscience, which shows that at least all mammals, and birds too, share a number of brain centers for the same emotional systems. I will also discuss the various emotions of dogs and other animals. Which particular emotions do they have? Pleasure, pain, jealousy, guilt, gratitude? How important are affection and love in the lives of animals? Which animals seem to mourn deceased conspecifics? Can rats, dogs and apes laugh? Can animals have emotional traumas? And what similarities exist between humans and other animals with regard to altered states of consciousness, such as dreaming and being under the influence of psychoactive medication and drugs?

Sunday 6 October: Lectureday “Introduction to animal ethics.”

How can we best relate to other animals?

How can we best relate to other animals?

On this lectureday I will give a review of the most important schools of thought in animal ethics. After a short introduction to philosophy and ethics, and the history of moral thought about nonhuman animals, the most important current philosophers will be presented: Peter Singer and his utilitarian ethics of animal liberation. Tom Regan, who argues for animal rights from a deontological perspective. Philosophers who argue that the presence of sentience or consciousness is sufficient condition for equal moral consideration, such as Gary Francione. Philosophers who make a moral distinction between humans and other animals based on the capacity for language (Frey, Carruthers). Feminist animal ethics which looks at animals with the concepts of care and dialogue. And finally, deep ecology, in which humans and other animals are part of the biosphere. The following questions will be discussed, among others: Is the capacity for self-awareness relevant for the ways in which an animal should be treated? Are some animals replaceable? How can we discern speciesism, discrimination based on species? What are the arguments for equality among all animals? Do all living beings have an inherent value? What should one do if one is in a lifeboat with 3 other humans and 1 dog and one individual has to be thrown overboard in order not to sink the lifeboat? After this presentation of the various schools of thought and positions in animal ethics, a practical part will follow. The participants at the lectureday will be assigned to the most important animal ethics positions. We will then discuss several moral questions or dilemmas and the participants will then have to apply the reasoning of the particular animal ethics position they have been assigned to, to the specific moral dilemma. Examples of these moral dilemmas are the keeping of animals in captivity, like in zoos, but also the recent issues regarding the large herbivores that have been placed in human constructed nature areas such as the Oostvaardersplassen: Is it morally justified not to feed these animals, but cull them during severe winters?

Practical information. The Lecturedays are organized for people who work with animals professionally, for students, and for anyone interested in animals and eager to broaden their knowledge about them. A specific former education is not required. The lecturedays will be given in the Dutch language, but a passive knowledge of English is convenient, given that some of the films that I will show are not subtitled. Both lecturedays will start at 11.00 o’clock in the morning and will end at 17.30 in the afternoon. They will be held at Logement In Den Groene Specht, Hoofdstraat 13 in Zwiggelte, province of Drenthe. Zwiggelte can be reached from most places in the four northern provinces within 100 kilometers. It can only be reached by car, but if you are dependent on public transport we can probably arrange something for you. Registration fee: 55 euro for each lectureday. For students (with a student ID card) the fee is 35 euro for each lectureday. This includes coffee and tea, and a lunch (vegetarian or vegan lunch can be arranged). For those interested, there is also a possibility to have an informal dinner with me afterwards. In order to register, send a message to or by filling out the form below: 

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