Sam Schulte, Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, University of Chicago
“To be (a baboon), or not to be (a bat); On Time and Subjectivity in Baboon Mothers and Infants”
What kinds of valid inferences can be made about animal life? Baboon Mothers and Infants, as a foundational work for behavioral ecology and deploying methodology from Jeanne Altmann’s 1974 paper on observational study, establishes the validity of focal sampling as a data collection method for the naturalistic study of animal behavior. Using the issue of time in Thomas Nagel’s “What is it like to be a bat?” as a means to explore the ontological and epistemological stakes of her work, I argue that Altmann productively manipulates analytic time in order to form a well-supported notion of what it is like ‘to be’ a mother-infant dyad, and in so doing, makes objective claims about the subjective experience of the dyad.
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