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PPR460: Issues in Environmental Philosophy
What is environmental ethics? - An overview of English-speaking environmental ethics of the last 30 years, covering positions that draw on a range of ethical traditions - utilitarian, Kantian, rights-based and virtues-based.
Animal rights and environmental ethics. Do animals have rights? Does their well-being count morally? If so, to what degree does it count compared to that of human beings? But if animals count morally, then should living things more broadly also count, or ecosystems?
Intrinsic value. What kinds of things (humans, animals, organisms, ecosystems?) are valuable, and what is the source of value? Critical examination of the distinction between instrumental and intrinsic value. Is intrinsic value created by human beings or does it exist in the world prior to and independently of human beings?
Deep ecology is a philosophy that is anti-anthropocentric - recognizing that all living systems are interrelated and have intrinsic value - and values human self-realization, to be achieved through identifying our own good with that of all living systems. We will critically examine this philosophical position.
Ecofeminism encompasses a range of positions from the view that patriarchal domination is the root of environmental problems to the more modest view that there is a connection between dichotomous concepts of human and nature and of man and woman. We will critically examine this range of positions.
The idea of sustainability. Ordinarily sustainable development is defined in terms of a balance between the needs of present and future generations. But must sustainability be defined solely in terms of human needs and goods in this way, or can - and should - it be defined in ways that refer to goods other than human well-being?
Restoration of nature. Does nature restored by human activity have the same value as wild nature that has never been altered by human activity?
Wilderness. 'Wild' areas, untouched by human activity, are often seen as especially important to human well-being or as having intrinsic value. Others have questioned whether there is any truly 'wild' nature and how relevant the concept is to environmental ethics. Others have argued that the concept of wilderness has had harmful effects in developing countries. We will examine these debates.
Environmental Ethics: An Anthology, ed. Holmes Rolston III and Andrew Light. Oxford: Blackwell, 2003.
Environmental Ethics and Process Thinking, Clare Palmer. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Environmental Ethics: Readings in Theory and Application, ed. Louis P. Pojman and Paul Pojman. Wadsworth, 2007.
Environmental Ethics: The Big Questions, ed. David Keller. Blackwell, 2010.
Environmental Philosophy, ed. Baird Callicott and Clare Palmer. 5 volumes. London: Routledge, 2005.
Earthcare: An Anthology in Environmental Ethics, ed. David Clowney, Rowman and Littlefield, 2009.
Environmental Values, John O'Neill, Alan Holland and Andrew Light. London: Routledge, 2007.
Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy, ed. Baird Callicott and Robert Frodeman. New York: Macmillan, 2009.
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