PPE 495
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Email: craig.delancey@oswego.edu
Classroom: MCC 164
Class time: MWF 1:50 pm - 2:45 pm
Office: MCC212A.
Office Hours: Every other MW 3:00 p.m. -- 4:00 p.m., Tuesdays on GoogleMeet 9:00 -- 11:00 a.m., and by appointment


Our question is this: why are people very often kind to each other? More specifically, why does altruism exist. Of course, we might answer "Because it should." Fair enough, but how did it come about that we do what we ought to do?

This semester, we'll consider several perspectives on this problem:


There is no unified textbook for this course. We will be assigning readings of original works of major contributors to the literature on the evolution and development of altruism.

Attendance and Class Participation

This course is designed as a seminar. It is not my intent to deliver lectures, rather to lead our seminar in discussing the issues presented by our readings. It is essential that you attend each class session and participate actively in discussions.

Please note: I generally do not answer emails that read: "I missed class today. Did we do anything important? If so, can you tell me everything I missed and perhaps teach the whole class to me over email or perhaps in office hours?" I especially am likely to not answer it if from someone who missed a lot of classes.


I am asking that no one use a computer or cell phone in class. I know that this is a catastrophe of some kind, but I have found that they always become terrible distractions. If you must use Snapchat or watch Netflix, just skip class.

Reading Assignments

Readings will be assigned and announced in class and will form the basis for co-operative participation assignments. We will be examining the readings in detail during class meetings. In order to participate and contribute as a seminar member you will need to be prepared by completing the required readings for each class meeting. You will need to devote quality time to your readings for this course. Come to class with questions and well thought-out comments concerning your readings. It generally helps to write these down.


I will often assign a short homeworks about the reading or other matters.


There will be at least two standardized-style tests, and also a midterm and a final exam.

Paper and presentation

You will be required to write a paper on some instance of altruism (or failure where we are trying to enforce altruism). You will present your findings to the class.


We'll do a couple assessment tests this semester. These will help us determine how much of our teachings are sticking. Thanks for helping us by doing your best.


Final grades will be based on:
If you miss an exam and have an excused absence for the day you miss the exam, you may make it up, by special appointment with me, when you are able to come back to class. It is your responsibility to arrange any make-up exams as soon as you know you are going to miss the exam. Otherwise you may lose the opportunity to take the test, since I cannot give make-up exams after the class has gone over the answers.


We will frequently update an online schedule of readings and assignments. It is your responsibility to check the www pages for the class at least every other day!

Office Hours

In addition to my listed office hours, I encourage you to make appointments. I am available quite a bit, but have trouble predicting times because of lots of irregular meetings. Please try to come to office hours with specific questions in mind. You can of course come with a general request for help, but it is always helpful if you spend a little time thinking about how I can best help you out.

User Agreement

Excused absences

Here is how you secure an excused absence: Only prior notification with credibly documented or easily verifiable reasons (e.g., medical visits to Mary Walker, documented participation in official sporting events, etc.) will result in excused absences. You must notify in writing, call, or email me prior to your absence from class. You must notify the Philosophy Department secretary or the Psychology Department secretary before you are going to be absent. However, you must make sure she knows your name, the number of the course, the date, and your easily verifiable reason, along with a request to forward the information to me. It is better to give your information to me, except when you are unable to communicate with my phone or email for some reason.

Please hold onto all of your assignments and exams. Sometime before the end of the semester we recommend that you ask us to review the grades that I have recorded to make sure that I have not made any mistakes. I'm only human and can make typos in recording grades! Grades will be posted on Angel, so you can review these at any time.

College Policy on Intellectual Integrity

Intellectual integrity on the part of all students is basic to individual growth and development through college course work. When academic dishonesty occurs, the teaching/learning climate is seriously undermined and student growth and development are impeded. For these reasons, any form of intellectual dishonesty is a serious concern and is therefore prohibited.

Intellectual integrity on the part of all students is basic to individual growth and development through college course work. When academic dishonestly occurs, the teaching/learning climate is seriously undermined and student growth and development are impeded. For these reasons, any form of intellectual dishonestly is a serious concern and is therefore prohibited.

The full intellectual integrity policy can be found at www.oswego.edu/administration/registrar/policy_text.html#cpii.


The Office of Disability Services is available to assist students who have a legally documented disability or students who suspect that they may have a disability. If you have a disabling condition that may interfere with your ability to successfully complete this course, please contact the Office of Disability Services (dss@oswego.edu or see www.oswego.edu/dis.)

Title IX

Clery Act/Title IX Reporting Statement: SUNY Oswego is committed to enhancing the safety and security of the campus for all its members. In support of this, faculty may be required to report their knowledge of certain crimes or harassment. Reportable incidents include harassment on the basis of sex or gender prohibited by Title IX and crimes covered by the Clery Act. For more information about Title IX protections, go to https://www.oswego.edu/title-ix/ or contact the Title IX Coordinator, 405 Culkin Hall, 315-312-5604, titleix@oswego.edu. For more information about the Clery Act and campus reporting, go to the University Police annual report: https://www.oswego.edu/police/annual-report.