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1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
News and Notes
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from the guest editor
2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Shan Gao Nature, Wilderness, and Civilization: Perspectives from Chinese Scholars
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features
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Wang-heng Chen, Xin-yu Chen The Re-Enchantment of Wilderness and Urban Aesthetics
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According to the essence of industrial civilization, wilderness is bound to disenchantment. However, in the ecological civilization era, based on the demands of ecological balance, we must reserve a certain degree of wilderness in urban environment. Therefore, we need to bring back enchantment to aesthetic appreciation of wilderness. On the surface, the re-enchantment of wilderness seems to be a regression of agricultural civilization; however, in fact, it is a transcendental development of agricultural civilization. In recent years, there have been some deviations in the application of “garden urbanism” and “landscape urbanism” have existed in contemporary Chinese urban landscaping. To some extent, the recovery of wilderness is a major mission in Chinese urban construction.
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Yuedi Liu The Paradigm of the Wild, Cultural Diversity, and Chinese Environmentalism: A Response to Holmes Rolston, III
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The so-called “Paradigm of the Wild” means either environmental ethics or environmental aesthetics has gone wild. According to Holmes Rolston, III, “philosophy has gone wild.” Chinese traditional environmentalism takes another anthropocosmic way, and it has a global applicability in cultural diversity. The dichotomy of “nature-culture” is already out of date, and humans have to face the new relation of humanized-nature today. From the perspec­tive of “ethics and aesthetics” in Chinese Confucianism, a different passageway between environmental ethics and environmental aesthetics can be shaped.
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Shan Gao Nature, Wilderness, and Supreme Goodness: A Comparative Study of Transcendentalism and Confucianism
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Transcendentalism and Confucianism involve different understandinsgs of the concepts of nature, wilderness, and supreme goodness in terms of the metaphysical understanding of nature and how it influences the understanding of human nature. The goodness of Tao is not transcendental as understood by transcendentalism. Rather the goodness of Tao as the important moral values is shaped by human beings’ experience of the natural world. It is this deeper philosophical reason why transcendentalism encourages the aesthetic appreciation of wilderness while Confucianism encourages the aesthetic appreciation of humanized nature.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
LuYang Chen, Ziao Chen Wilderness in Ancient Chinese Landscape Painting
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Chinese painting is dominated by landscape painting, which is a unique form of artistic expression for Chinese people, while landscape generally refers to nature. Wild natural landscape can be called “wilderness,” which embodies the vitality and upward vitality of nature, and also contains unique cultural characteristics. “Wilderness” is the most important “original ecological” environment in the natural environment. Its existence has natural, ecological, and aesthetic significance. It is nature in its primitiveness and ecology in its wildness; the aesthetic lives on in it. Compared with Western landscape painting, it pays particular attention to realism, good at depicting beautiful natural scenery and recording the reality of scenery. On the other hand, Chinese landscape painting pays more attention to the expression of connotation. Chinese landscape painting focuses on nature, takes meaning as its purpose and pursues culture. Chinese landscape painting is the outstanding expression of wilderness spirit, which is mainly manifested in three aspects: (1) Chinese landscape painting is of the same origin as “Tao” (道); (2) the “wilderness” in landscape painting has a strong vitality; (3) “wilderness” has a special cultural connotation. China’s wilderness is not ecological, but is vibrant; not in the dust, but out of the dust; not in nature, but in culture.
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Yuling Che, Feifei Duan Cultural Roots for the Evolution of Wilderness and the Anxieties of Urban Living
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Space being the precondition for human existence, human perception and experience vary responding to different spaces. Modern urban dwellers live in urban space where they seem to have much space mobility but end up living in a homogenized concrete jungle. This fact has influenced, if not defined, modern urban dwellers’ life experience and caused their anxieties about such an existence. However, wilderness, as opposed to urban space, is not merely a type of space, but a way of existence relating to diversity, freedom, and healthy savagery. Civilizational evolution explains the change of human perception of wilderness from fear and desire to conquer to longing and affection, and in this sense the history of the evolution of space perception is also a history of civilization because space and culture are entwined and the more diversified the types of human living space, the more diversified their existences. In the contemporary world, the significance of wilderness not only lies in its resistance to the aforementioned homogenized, unidimensional, urban human existence, but the civilization of wilderness points to a new form of civilization that is intrinsically different from technological civilization for whose disease the civilization of wilderness per se may serve as a possible remedy.
8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Yanqiu Hu, Xiaotao Zhou Wilderness Spirit and Ecological Self in the Vision of Ecopsychology
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Ecopsychology holds that a full-fledged self should be in harmony with nature, but when the human’s social self, consumptive false self, and paranoid cultural narcissism prevail, the ecological self goes from dominant existence to recessive existence. Because of this predicament with regard to the ecological self, one should make full use of wildness spirit to reshape the ecological self. Due to the abstract nature of the wilderness spirit and in an attempt to present the wilderness spirit in a more concrete and vivid way, the wilderness spirit needs to be set apart from wilderness literature so as to analyze the role that the wilderness spirit plays in rebuilding the ecological self.
9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
News and Notes
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features
10. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Allen Thompson, Marion Hourdequin Adapting Environmental Ethics to Rapid, Anthropogenic, and Global Ecological Change: Introduction to the Special Issue
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11. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Jeremy Sorgen Beyond the Anthropocentrism Debate: An Adaptive History of Environmental Ethics
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The anthropocentrism debate, which centers on the place and status of environmental values, has been a core issue for environmental ethics since the field’s beginning in the 1970s. Nonanthropocentrists attribute value to non-human nature directly, while anthropocentrists claim that humans hold a certain priority. While the debate has produced a wide variety of interesting philosophical positions, it has not achieved its implicit goal of cultural reform. This is not because philosophers fail to agree on a tenable position, but because the debate is misconceived. Both sides of the debate assume that agreement on common values, worldviews, and substantive positions is prerequisite to cultural reform. Pragmatic criticism of this assumption, however, displays its underlying faults, while pragmatic inquiry into the field’s development displays how scholars are already generating methods more commensurate with the goal of cultural reform. Philosophers invested in changing public values should transition from debates in axiology (the study of values) to debating method, where axiology is just one method among others and not the one best suited to supporting cultural reform. A historical survey of the field suggests what scholars of environmental ethics are learning about methods that are both publicly engaged and culturally transformative.
12. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Levi Tenen No Intrinsic Value? No Problem: Why Nature Can Still Be Valuable for Its Own Sake
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Heirlooms and memorabilia are sometimes thought to be valuable for their own sakes even if they lack intrinsic value. They can have extrinsic final value, meaning that they can be valuable for their own sakes on account of their relation to other things. Yet if heirlooms and memorabilia can have this sort of value, then perhaps so can natural entities. If correct, this idea secures the claim that nature is valuable for its own sake without requiring that it have a normative property just in itself. Additionally, it does not commit one to the contentious view that natural entities have a more foundational value than that of persons or sentient beings. Yet it remains to be shown how, precisely, natural entities can have this sort of value. As argued here, one such way is if the given natural entity is related to something else that people are justified in valuing in a partly passive manner. This account then sheds light on the values present in a world increasingly affected by humans.
13. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Alexander Lee, Alex Hamilton, Benjamin Hale Conservation Floors and Degradation Ceilings: A Justificatory Architecture for Constraints in U.S. Environmental Policy
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U.S. conservation policy, both in structure and in practice, places a heavy burden on conservationists to halt development projects, rather than on advocates of development to defend their proposed actions. In this paper, we identify this structural phenomenon in several landmark environmental policies and in practice in the contemporary debate concerning oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The burdens placed on conservation can be understood in terms of constraints—as conservation ‘floors’ (or minimum standards) and degradation ‘ceilings’ (or upper limits). At base, these floors and ceilings emerge out of underlying consequentialist commitments that assume that our environmental activity can be justified by appeal primarily to ends. A series of intuition pumps guides our argument to instead shift the conservation discourse away from these consequentialist commitments to more widely justify activities on our public lands.
14. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Evelyn Brister, Andrew E. Newhouse Not the Same Old Chestnut: Rewilding Forests with Biotechnology
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We argue that the wild release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be justified as a way of preserving species and ecosystems. We look at the case of a genetically modified American chestnut (Castanea dentata) that is currently undergoing regulatory review. Because American chestnuts are functionally extinct, a genetically modified replacement has significant conservation value. In addition, many of the arguments used against GMOs, especially GMO crops, do not hold for American chestnut trees. Finally, we show how GMOs such as the American chestnut support a reorientation of conservation values away from restoration as it has historically been interpreted, and toward an alternative framework known as rewilding.
15. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Thomas H. Bretz Discussing Harm without Harming: Disability and Environmental Justice
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While the disability community has long argued convincingly that disability is not a negative condition, academic and popular discourses on environmental justice routinely refer to disability as a prima facie harm to be avoided. This perpetuates the harms of ableism, and it is, furthermore, unnecessary in order to advance environmental justice. It is possible (a) to demand an investigation into the state of an environment, (b) to object to toxic environmental conditions and (c) to hold polluting parties accountable without assuming any overall difference in value or desirability between disabled and non-disabled lives.
16. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Simona Capisani Territorial Instability and the Right to a Livable Locality
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Territory loss and uninhabitability characterize the current environmental background conditions of the international state system. Such conditions present pressing moral questions about our obligations to protect those who are displaced by anthropogenic climate change. By virtue of our participation in the territorial state system, understood as a social practice, we have principled grounds to address some of the consequences of the uninhabitability conditions brought on by climate change. By assuming territorial instability and employing a practice-based method of justification we can identify a fundamental, basic right protected under the state system—the right to a livable locality—which grounds a moral obligation to protect against climate change-induced displacement. Assuming territorial instability and uninhabitability compels us to recognize that the causes generating climate-displacement are not merely natural but rather deeply political and that displacement is a foreseeable failure that results because of the state system’s organizational structure.
17. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1
News and Notes
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from the editor
18. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1
The Beginning of a New Beginning
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features
19. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1
Allen Thompson Adaptation, Transformation, and Development: Environmental Change and the Rethinking of the Human Good
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It is widely accepted that we must adapt to climate change. But we sit on the edge of radical, unprecedented, and rapid anthropogenic environmental changes that are driven by many factors in addition to greenhouse gas emissions. In this way, we occupy a unique and precarious position in the history of our species. Many basic conditions of life on Earth are changing at an alarming rate and thus we should begin to transform and broaden our thinking about adaptation. The conceptual history of climate adaptation intersects with conceptions of human development and sustainability, which provides a framework for adaptation in how we think about human flourishing and, subsequently, what it is to be human in the Anthropocene. If sustainability is about maintaining human welfare across generations but we acknowledge that climate change may undercut our ability to deliver as much and as good total or natural capital to subsequent generations, we have a residual duty to otherwise positively affect the welfare of future generations. A subjective, preference-based conception of human welfare is compared to an objective, capabilities-based approach and, while some adaptive preferences are unavoidable, embracing an objective theory of human flourishing provides a superior approach for meeting the residual duty we have to future generations by beginning the process of adapting our conception of human natural goodness, or what it is to be a good human being.
20. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1
Russell C. Powell Transforming Genius into Practical Power: Muir, Emerson, and the Politics of Character
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John Muir can be interpreted to have employed a similar strategy in his earliest conservation advocacy writings as the strategy Ralph Waldo Emerson employed to overcome the public futility of his personal ideals. Like Emerson, Muir came to offset the despair he felt at the political impotence of his conscience with a positive outlook on his potential to embody his subjective ideals both in his personal character and in his contributions to concrete forms of social practice. Muir thus can be shown to have standing in the environmental virtue ethics tradition by dint of his appreciation for the necessity of virtuous political participation in movements for social reform.