Public Philosophy Network

Encouraging and Supporting Publicly Engaged Philosophical Research and Practices

Peter Dorfman
  • Belmont, MA
  • United States
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Peter Dorfman's Page

Latest Activity

Peter Dorfman added a discussion to the group Ethics and Human-Animal Relations
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We Are Not the Only Political Animals

This article, by Justin E. H. Smith of Université Paris Diderot, is from the New York Times' public philosophy forum, The Stone.  It makes a number of points that are certainly debatable, but also positions the treatment of animals within the ontological and normative beliefs of human political systems.…See More
Nov 3, 2014
Peter Dorfman added a discussion to the group Ethics and Human-Animal Relations
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Law Suit to Declare Chimpanzees Legal Persons

The article below reports on current efforts to have the New York Supreme Court issue a rit of habeus corpus and declare chimpanzees persons for certain legal purposes.http://nyti.ms/18VyppoIf this suit is successful (obviously uncertain right now) it would be a significant further step legally and culturally in recognizing the extent to which human and nonhuman animals share important characteristics as well as a being a major shift in the legal…See More
Dec 3, 2013
Peter Dorfman added a discussion to the group Ethics and Human-Animal Relations
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Neurological (MRI) Evidence that Dogs Have Similar Emotions to Humans

His article in today's New York Times provides interesting evidence for the similarity of human and canine emotions based on MRI studies of the activity of canine brains and argues that this provides a basis for attributing personhood to dogs. It further suggests that there are moral and legal implications for such studies.…See More
Oct 6, 2013
Jesse Romo joined Peter Dorfman's group
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Ethics and Human-Animal Relations

From animal rights to global warming to public health, human use and treatment of animals is among the greatest social issues of our age.  This forum explores the philosophical and policy issues involved in our relation to animals.See More
Aug 18, 2013
Dan Hicks and Monica List joined Peter Dorfman's group
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Ethics and Human-Animal Relations

From animal rights to global warming to public health, human use and treatment of animals is among the greatest social issues of our age.  This forum explores the philosophical and policy issues involved in our relation to animals.See More
Mar 23, 2013
David O'Hara joined Peter Dorfman's group
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Ethics and Human-Animal Relations

From animal rights to global warming to public health, human use and treatment of animals is among the greatest social issues of our age.  This forum explores the philosophical and policy issues involved in our relation to animals.See More
Feb 23, 2013
Michelle Bastian joined Peter Dorfman's group
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Ethics and Human-Animal Relations

From animal rights to global warming to public health, human use and treatment of animals is among the greatest social issues of our age.  This forum explores the philosophical and policy issues involved in our relation to animals.See More
Aug 7, 2012
Peter Dorfman liked Peter Dorfman's discussion Frans de Waal on Moral Behavior in Animals
Jul 17, 2012
Peter Dorfman replied to Peter Dorfman's discussion Frans de Waal on Moral Behavior in Animals in the group Ethics and Human-Animal Relations
"Clearly, the question of whether animals have rights depends on what theory you hold of the source or justification for attributing rights in the first place.  For myself, being a nominalist in this area and believing that moral and political…"
Jul 17, 2012
Sara Waller replied to Peter Dorfman's discussion Frans de Waal on Moral Behavior in Animals in the group Ethics and Human-Animal Relations
"I'm surprised that DeWaal is taking up the position of Marc Hauser, i.e., animals have the 'basics' of morality, but don't really adhere to full blown 'moral principles' or 'moral systems' in the way that…"
Jul 12, 2012
Peter Dorfman added a discussion to the group Ethics and Human-Animal Relations
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Frans de Waal on Moral Behavior in Animals

Frans de Waal is a well-known researcher in animal behavior.  In the TED lecture below he discusses the manifestation of elements of moral values and judgement in a number of mammals and illustrates his findings with some interesting video footage.  These experiments once again show the continuity between aspects of human and non-human animal behavior and judgement.…See More
Jul 11, 2012
Peter Dorfman added a discussion to the group Ethics and Human-Animal Relations
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Common Human and Animal Illnesses

Not exactly on the topic of this group, but still quite relevant to many considerations of how we should apply our understanding of humans to other animals, and vice versa.  The article from the June 10, 2012 New York Times provides a lengthy and interesting discussion of illnesses that are shared by humans and other animals, from heart disease, diabetes and cancer to addiction and self-harming. …See More
Jun 14, 2012
Kyle Powys Whyte joined Peter Dorfman's group
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Ethics and Human-Animal Relations

From animal rights to global warming to public health, human use and treatment of animals is among the greatest social issues of our age.  This forum explores the philosophical and policy issues involved in our relation to animals.See More
Jun 14, 2012
Peter Dorfman added a discussion to the group Ethics and Human-Animal Relations
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NYTimes Feature, Put Your Ethics Where Your Mouth Is

I don't know how many people may have seen this discussion of the moral justification for eating meat on the New York Times web site so I am posting a link to it here:http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/04/20/magazine/ethics-eating-meat.html?emc=eta1The Times solicited essay submissions from its readers and then a panel of experts evaluated and selected the "best" from among…See More
Apr 25, 2012
Kelsey Kamitomo joined Peter Dorfman's group
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Ethics and Human-Animal Relations

From animal rights to global warming to public health, human use and treatment of animals is among the greatest social issues of our age.  This forum explores the philosophical and policy issues involved in our relation to animals.See More
Mar 19, 2012
Vincent Reynolds liked Peter Dorfman's discussion The End of Nature
Feb 24, 2012

Profile Information

Institutional affiliation or employer (if any)
None
What is your professional position? (
Independent Scholar/Activist
Interest in public philosophy? Please be as SPECIFIC AS YOU CAN. Members who answer "yes" or "a lot" will not be approved.
I am interested in the way that philosophical theories and perspectives can help to illuminate the challenging and ambiguous conditions of human experience. I am especially interested in the ethical questions concerning human relationships with nature and other animals. And I am intrigued by the way in which our attempts to resolve our philosophical difficulties so often lead to further questions and intellectual penumbra.

I began my philosophical career with an interest in Kantian and Phenomenological epistemology and philosophical psychology. I then focused on Pragmatism and Deweyan ethics, and I continue to be convinced that the naturalistic approach followed by most pragmatists is the most realistic and fruitful way to pursue philosophical investigations. The Pragmatic tradition contains a long history of participation in public debates and it is often by placing a philosophical question within the context of a public policy -- or at least an interpersonal -- debate that the salient issues and options can best be seen.

I would like to find that genuine and rigorous philosophical discussion can contribute to the formulation of public options but I am well-aware of the history and grounds for skepticism on this topic that were first expressed by Plato!

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