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The Harvard Review of Philosophy

Volume 29, 2022
Philosophy and the Environment

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Displaying: 1-11 of 11 documents

1. The Harvard Review of Philosophy: Volume > 29
Nathan Beaucage, Polina Whitehouse

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2. The Harvard Review of Philosophy: Volume > 29
Bryan G. Norton

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While environmental ethics has flourished and contributed to the discussion of environmental policy, other areas of philosophy (epistemology, for example), have been less in evidence in these discussions. In this paper, we explore a role for these neglected areas: they are best viewed as meta-level discussions of the conceptual and linguistic problems that arise as scientists develop models at the edges of scientific fields relevant to our understanding of environmental problems and possible solutions. The relevant fields, which might differ depending on the specific environmental problem being addressed, can be thought of as a collection of “philosophies of ____” where the blank stands for one of the relevant disciplines, such as biology, ecology, or economics. We eschew the typical arguments regarding which models are correct in favor of a pragmatic/pluralistic approach to understanding scientific models. This pragmatic approach softens interdisciplinary conflicts as Rudolf Carnap’s Principle of Tolerance (linguistic conventionalism) urges an experimental approach to developing linguistic frameworks for differing situations. This approach is illustrated by an examination of the models proposed by ecologists and economists.

3. The Harvard Review of Philosophy: Volume > 29
Michael Marder Orcid-ID

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This article contemplates the possibility of a philosophy of nature in and for the twenty-first century. Following an examination of the contemporary critiques of the concept of nature, I propose an alternative approach, inspired by Heraclitus and Friedrich Schelling, according to which nature is not an archaic category, but something yet to come, to be invented and reinvented. At the same time, I argue that the irreducible futurity of nature needs to be set in the context of the current global destruction of ecosystems, which indicates the exhaustion of the fecundity and self-renewal that are at the core of the future-oriented conception of nature as an activity. Hence, whatever is yet to come as far as nature is concerned ought to be anticipated in light of what I call “finite finitude,” implying an ethics that is distinct from the ideologies of infinite renewability.

4. The Harvard Review of Philosophy: Volume > 29
Elisa Aaltola

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Some philosophers have argued that love has moral-psychological power, as it can motivate one to appreciate the existence of others and to offer care for them. This appears evident in the context of our relations with nonhuman animals and nature: love can motivate one to think of them as morally considerable. But what is love? The paper at hand investigates one classic philosophical definition of love and applies it to our relationship with other animals and nature. This definition is the quality view of love, i.e., Platonic love, which, I argue, facilitates deeper moral concern for nonhuman animals and things.

5. The Harvard Review of Philosophy: Volume > 29
Simon P. James Orcid-ID

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In some environmental circles, talk of relational values is very much in fashion. It is said that we must think in terms of such values if we are to understand how such things as canyons, mangroves, and coral reefs matter to people. But that is bad advice. Appeals to relational values are typically misleading in several respects. Granted, those who make such appeals often do so in order to make the important point that some values are neither intrinsic nor instrumental in form, but that point can be made more clearly by referring to other concepts, such as that of constitutive value. To this objection, some may respond that appeals to relational value are nonetheless useful. However, as things stand, their usefulness remains unproven.

6. The Harvard Review of Philosophy: Volume > 29
Serenella Iovino

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This article examines one of Italo Calvino’s most beloved novels, (1957), contextualizing it in its landscape and exploring the multifaceted strands of its environmental creativity. Unsuspected paths of political ecology, environmental history, and even biosemiotics and plant neurophysiology will emerge, thus showing the timeliness and clairvoyance of his books vis-à-vis our planetary crises. Written in a seminarrative form, this piece is an invitation to read literary works not only along with their landscapes, but their landscapes, and to consider the potential of more-than-human stories for the shaping of our ethical-environmental imagination.

7. The Harvard Review of Philosophy: Volume > 29
Marion Hourdequin Orcid-ID

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Global climate change raises critical issues of intergenerational ethics. One of these issues involves what Stephen Gardiner calls intergenera­tional buck-passing (IGBP)—a pattern through which each generation does little to address climate change and instead passes the problem along to the next, progressively amplifying the climate crisis over time. My goal in this paper to explore two key questions: (1) What is at the root of intergenera­tional buck-passing? and (2) What changes might help to disrupt it? To an­swer these questions, I argue that we need to understand and address the role of moral ambivalence in reinforcing the status quo and creating friction that impedes climate action. Confronting moral ambivalence may enable more thoughtful and just responses to climate change that support intergenerational solidarity and mutual flourishing.

8. The Harvard Review of Philosophy: Volume > 29
Daniel M. Haybron Orcid-ID

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This paper argues that a specifically environmental ethic is neither needed nor perhaps desirable for effecting the change in values for which many environmentalists have rightly called. Rather, familiar values such as beauty and excellence, and especially an outlook that regards those values as central aspects of a good life, may be all that is needed. The requisite ethic of appreciation is already embedded to some degree in a wide range of cultures, so no radical shift in values is called for, nor convergence on a tendentious moral framework. But this outlook meets with skepticism from the dominant public ethos, as embodied for instance in mainstream economics. While this paper does not offer a full-blooded defense of an aesthetic grounding for environmental concern, it does suggest that the skepticism about such a grounding is considerably overblown.

9. The Harvard Review of Philosophy: Volume > 29
J. Baird Callicott, Nathan Beaucage, Noemi Iten

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10. The Harvard Review of Philosophy: Volume > 29
Holmes Rolston III, Orcid-ID Sam Lebenson, Justin Wong

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11. The Harvard Review of Philosophy: Volume > 29
Noemi Iten, Sam Libenson

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