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.

Please email Katharine Mershon ( for a copy of the paper.

Light refreshments will be served.

This event is free and open to the public. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance to attend should contact Katharine Mershon (