Cooperative Predator Vocalization Consortium

We are an international group of interdisciplinary, collaborative researchers and professionals, focused on achieving a fundamental understanding of the vocal communication between animals that cooperate to hunt. We use the unique nature of the cooperative interactions between predators to understand the evolution of communication, social behavior, and animal cognition. Our approach addresses practical problems such as population assessment, conservation and sustainability, and the mitigation of wildlife-human conflict. Through venues such as webinars, biannual meetings, information sharing, and working groups, we enhance the efficiency and productivity of scientific exploration into communicative, collective goal based activity in animals.

At Montana State University specifically, graduate and undergraduate students work with Dr. Waller to record and analyze vocalizations of coyotes, wolves, feral cats, and occasionally, bottlenose and pacific white sided dolphins, in order to map vocalizations onto the coordinated behaviors of groups and cognitive states of individuals. Philosophically, theories of semantics have been primarily based on human languages; this work is aimed at providing a broader foundation for our understanding of the nature of meaning. Through the use of empirical data to supplement philosophical theory, we are developing a non-species specific framework for what language is, and how language contributes to and informs us about theory of mind, self, and other.  Dr. Rob Maher contributes his expertise in sound analysis and reveals the work deeply interdisciplinary nature of this work.

*If you are interested in interning for the Urban Coyote Project, please email Professor Waller: sara.waller@montana.edu.*

Research Interests

  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Philosophy of Animal Minds
  • Philosophy of Neurology & Cognitive Science
  • 20th Century Analytic Philosophy

Education

  • PhD Loyola University, Chicago, IL, 1999
  • M.A. Philosophy, Loyola University, Chicago, IL, 1993
  • B.A. Philosophy & Psychology, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Dartmouth, MA, 1989

Select Publications

Edited Volumes

  • 2010  Serial Killers and Philosophy, edited by Sara Waller, in the Philosophy for Everyone Series, Fritz Allhoff, General Editor, Cambridge: Wiley-Blackwell Inc.

Book Chapters

  • 2013 “How Does Philosophical Counseling Work? Judgment and Interpretation” Philosophy, Psychotherapy and Counseling, Elliot D. Cohen and Samuel Zinaich, Jr., (Eds.), Cambridge Scholars Publishing
  • 2013 The Hippocratic and the Veterinary Oaths: Medical Ethics at the End of Life” in Our Changing Journey to the End in the series Psychology, Religion and Spirituality, edited by Christina Staudt and J. Harold Ellens, Praeger Press, Nov. 2013
  • 2012  “Science of the Monkey Mind: A Philosophical Consideration of Primate Research in Science and the Media” in Experiencing Animal Minds, Robert Mitchell and Julie Smith, editors, Columbia University Press.
  • 2012  “Introduction to Cognitive Science” in The Lincoln Library of Essential Information, Cleveland: Lincoln Library Press.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • 2014     “Acoustic sequences in non-human animals: A tutorial review and prospectus” Arik Kershenbaum, Daniel T. Blumstein, Marie A. Roch, Laela Sayigh, Sara Waller, and 39 others, Biological Reviews. Forthcoming
  • 2014 “Recent Texts in Animal Ethics” invited book review in Teaching Philosophy Vol 37, Issue 2, p 233-254.
  • 2013  “When Love Hurts Children” peer commentary with Carmela Epright in American Journal of Bioethics Vol 13 #11 November 2013. pp. 28-29.

Popular Philosophy Book Chapters

  • 2013     “Just say ‘no’ to oppression in our judgments of intelligence” in Planet of the Apes and Philosophy
  • 2012    “Meth-ics: Walt as Existential Hero” in Breaking Bad and Philosophy in the Popular Culture and Philosophy series. Edited by David Koepsell. Open Court Publishers.        

Courses Taught

Montana State University, Bozeman

  • PHL 492: Animal Cognition and Vocalization
  • PHL 492: Advanced Logic (Spring Semester only)
  • PHL 400: Seminar: Transhumanism, Neuroethics
  • PHL 365: Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness
  • PHL 304: Metaphysics
  • PHL 278CS: Origins of Life (Philosophy of Astrobiology)
  • PHL 236Q: Introduction to Logic
  • PHL 205CS: Other Animals
  • PHL 110: Introduction to Ethics: Good and Evil
  • PHL 101: Introduction to Philosophy: Reason and Reality