Skip to main content

Don Shula, former head coach of the Miami Dolphins, is a 1951 graduate of John Carroll University. His experience studying philosophy as an undergraduate at John Carroll inspired him to establish the Don Shula Chair in Philosophy, which supports the Philosophy Department by presenting programs of interest to philosophers and the general public.

The current Don Shula Chair is Simon Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., Associate Professor, or

Dr. Fitzpatrick’s research and teaching interests include philosophy of science, philosophy of mind and psychology, history and philosophy of biology, animal ethics, and contemporary analytic philosophy.

Research and Teaching Summary

Dr. Fitzpatrick’s current research focuses on methodological and conceptual issues in study of non-human animal cognition and the cognitive science of morality. Most recently, Dr. Fitzpatrick has been working on the question of whether non-human animals (especially primates, such as chimpanzees) are capable of thinking about the world in normative terms--in particular, whether there exist rules governing appropriate and inappropriate behavior (social norms) in communities of non-human animals, and whether these animals are capable of evaluating the behavior of their group mates in light of these rules. Dr. Fitzpatrick is also interested in broader questions about the evolution of such normative capacities and their bearing on our understanding of human cognitive evolution and the origins of morality.

Dr. Fitzpatrick has published articles in journals such as Philosophy of Science, Mind and Language, Biology and Philosophy, Journal of the History of Biology, Erkenntnis, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Fitzpatrick is currently working on a number of journal articles on the question of normative cognition in non-human animals and the evolution of normativity.

Courses offered at John Carroll include: PL260 Analytic Philosophy; PL375 Philosophy of Science; PL379 Philosophy of Mind; PL450 Animal Minds Seminar: PL450 Consciousness Seminar; and PL398 Philosophy of Origins, a linked course with BL135 Origins, taught by Dr. Chris Sheil in Biology. He has also directed numerous senior and honors theses and directed readings courses, including ones on morality in animals, theories consciousness, and the nature and ethics of empathy.