Irina Mikhalevich Headshot

Irina Mikhalevich

Assistant Professor
Department of Philosophy
College of Liberal Arts

Office Location

Irina Mikhalevich

Assistant Professor
Department of Philosophy
College of Liberal Arts


BA, University of California at Berkley; Ph.D., Boston University


Irina Mikhalevich is a philosopher of science, cognitive science, and ethics who joined RIT as Assistant Professor in 2017. Her research focuses on conceptual and methodological problems in the science of animal minds and their implications for the moral status of nonhuman animals. 

She is currently working on several projects, including a project on the nature of scientific experimentation; another on the implications of invertebrate cognition research for the study of mind, meaning, and morality (tentatively titled, Minds Without Spines); and an ongoing investigation of simplicity preferences in science.

Irina received her Ph.D. from Boston University in 2014 under the supervision of Alisa Bokulich and Colin Allen (Pittsburgh), following which she held the McDonnell Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology (PNP) Program at Washington University in St. Louis (2014-2016) and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany (2016).

For more information, including publications and current projects, please visit her website at

Currently Teaching

3 Credits
The Philosophy of Mind includes issues of metaphysics, epistemology, logic, psychology, aesthetics, linguistics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and biology, to name a few. Issues to be investigated include: Is there an ontological difference between minds and bodies? Could there be minds without bodies? Can I know that I have a mind? Are there other minds in the universe? Can I be conscious of my own consciousness? Can other things have the kinds of experiences which I have?
3 Credits
This course examines ethical questions that arise in the course of day-to-day individual and social life. Some consideration will be given to ethical theory and its application to such questions, but emphasis will be on basic moral questions and practical issues. Examples of typical issues to be examined are: What are the grounds for moral obligations like keeping promises or obeying the law? How do we reason about what to do? Examples of typical moral issues that may be introduced are capital punishment, euthanasia, abortion, corporate responsibility, the treatment of animals, and so forth.
3 Credits
An examination of the nature of the scientific enterprise; possible discussion topics include the presuppositions of science, its logic, its claims to reliability, and its relationships to society and to problems of human values.
3 Credits
This course introduces students to some of the ethical considerations and problems that arise in the context of medical practice, biological science, health care policy, and related research. Issues that may be covered include: abortion; stem cell research; human cloning; euthanasia; informed consent; human organ procurement; health care allocation and how it is approached in various countries; bioethical concerns arising from human caused climate change and other environmental issues impacting public health concerns around the globe. Students will become familiar with the concepts and principles of bioethics while engaging with case studies and related media. Part of the philosophy immersion, the ethics immersion, the global justice immersion, the philosophy minor, the ethics minor, and the philosophy major. May also be taken to fulfill the ethical perspective, the global perspective, or as an elective.

Select Scholarship

Invited Paper
Mikhalevich, Irina. "Consciousness, Evidence, and Moral standing." Animal Sentience. (2017). Web.
Book Chapter
Mikhalevich, Irina. "Simplicity in Cognitive Models: Avoiding Old Mistakes in New Experimental Contexts." The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Animal Minds. Ed. Kristin Andrews and Jacob Beck. London, England: Taylor & Francis, 2017. 427-436. Print.
Journal Paper
Powell, Russell, et al. "Convergent Minds: The Evolution of Cognitive Complexity in Nature." Journal of the Royal Society, Interface Focus 3. 3 (2017): 20170029. Print.
Mikhalevich, Irina, Russell Powell, and Corina Logan. "Is Behavioral Flexibility Evidence of Cognitive Complexity? How Evolution Can Inform Comparative Cognition." Journal of the Royal Society, Interface Focus. (2017): 20160121. Print.
Mikhalevich, Irina and Russell Powell. "Sex, Lies and Gender." Journal of Medical Ethics 43. 1 (2016): 14-16. Print.
Mikhalevich, Irina. "Experiment and Animal Minds: Why the Choice of the Null Hypothesis Matters." Philosophy of Science 82. 5 (2015): 1059-1069. Print.
Mikhalevich, Irina. "Honor Among (the Beneficiaries of) Thieves." Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18. 2 (2015): 385—402. Print.
(\"Meketa\"), Irina Mikhalevich. "A Critique of the Principle of Cognitive Simplicity in Comparative Cognition." Biology and Philosophy 29. 5 (2014): 731—745. Print.