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news and notes
1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 4
News and Notes
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features
2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 4
Workineh Kelbessa African Environmental Ethics, Indigenous Knowledge, and Environmental Challenges
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Unlike mainstream Western ethics, African environmental ethics has recognized the inter­connectedness and interdependence of all beings and the more-than-human world. To be an object of moral concern, rationality, intelligence, and language are not required, although different beings have different mental capacities and roles. The unity of the whole estab­lishes an ethical obligation for human beings toward nature. Africa has different cultures that have helped to shape positive moral attitudes toward the natural environment and its human and nonhuman components. Although African environmental ethics is increasingly being marginalized by educational establishments and policy makers in Africa, it has the potential to contribute to human well-being and environmental sustainability. However, it is not a panacea for all global environmental challenges, as it has its own limitations and needs improvement. The solution of environmental problems requires multidisciplinary approaches and the cooperation of all nations. African and other concerned scholars should critically study African environmental ethics and identify its positive elements that can en­able humanity to save Mother Earth and its inhabitants.
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 4
Charles J. List An Ontology for the Land Ethic
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Leopold’s principle of the land ethic has been modified, vilified, and ignored as a useful scientific and ethical insight. Issues concerning the nature of the three properties and their relations to biotic communities are mostly responsible for this problem. An ontology which takes integrity, stability, and beauty as dispositions is both consistent with what Leopold says and, more importantly, clarifies their relations to biotic communities. This approach, which relies on some developments in the philosophy of science, presents a dilemma for defenders of the principle: to retain the scientific reality of the properties, which results in them being largely indistinguishable from each other or to keep them conventionally distinct at the expense of their scientific usefulness.
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 4
Rémi Beau From Wilderness to Ordinary Nature: A French View on an American Debate
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The wilderness debate that has raged in American environmentalism since the 1990s has led to the valuation of less spectacular forms of nature than wilderness. This increasing interest in ordinary nature brings American environmental thought to an environmental ground more familiar to French ecologists. Although the wilderness idea that has focused on untrammeled places was difficult to integrate into the French philosophical landscape, reaching common ground could foster exchanges between American environmental ethics and French political ecology. More precisely, the renewal of naturalism that emerged from the wilderness debate could inform French political ecology, which sometimes tends to reduce environmental problems to social issues.
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 4
Mark Hathaway The Practical Wisdom of Permaculture: An Anthropoharmonic Phronesis for Moving toward an Ecological Epoch
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Earth may now be moving into a new epoch, the Anthropocene, in which human activities have become a significant geological force altering (and often undermining) the planet’s life-sustaining systems. In this context, Thomas Berry suggests that humanity’s key task is to create a viable niche for itself that simultaneously enables the Earth community as a whole to thrive, effectively inaugurating an ecological epoch. Stephen Scharper proposes that this transition entails a shift from anthropocentrism to anthropoharmonism. Anthropoharmonism recognizes the unique perspective (and power) of humans, but also recognizes that humans are wholly dependent on the wider Earth community and need to act in harmony with it. Moving from ethics to practice requires an ecological wisdom that enables humans to dis­cern actions that are mutually enhancing for ourselves and Earth’s ecosystems. Building on Arne Naess’ idea that ecosophia must be “directly relevant for action” as well as Aristotle’s understanding of phronesis or “ethical know-how,” this kind of wisdom can be understood as an anthropoharmonic phronesis that focuses on healing the Earth community, using sus­tainable practices and technologies appropriate for specific contexts. Such a phronesis can be found in permaculture, a design system founded by Bill Mollison and David Holgrem which provides a concrete set of guidelines for discerning ecologically appropriate actions in specific contexts based on an ethic of care of Earth, care of people, and fair share. Key principles include using small and slow solutions, designing from patterns to details, and creatively responding to change. Like anthropoharmonism, permaculture envisions a role for humans as responsive participants in ecosystems who must first engage in protracted observation and only intervene with the minimal change necessary to achieve a goal. Per­maculture can therefore be understood as a way to embody a practical, anthropoharmonic wisdom that could facilitate a shift toward an ecological epoch.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 4
Robert L. Chapman “It’s the Economy, Stupid!” and the Environment: An Urgent Reminder
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The current economic/political system, neoliberalism, has touched every aspect of life globally. The doctrine of neoliberalism consists of three central propositions, that the market is real and part of the natural universal law; that unlimited economic growth is both possible and even desirable; and that human nature is coincident with market values and based solely on self-interest. All three of these propositions are seriously flawed and have caused immense human suffering and staggering environmental destruction. This paper is a reminder of the failures of neoliberal policy and an appeal for change to a new institutional arrangement in which development trumps economic growth. This position is in contrast to Francis Fukuyama’s end-of-history thesis. He alleges there are no economic/political ideologies to compete with neoliberalism, the “TINA principle: There Is No Alternative”: the West has won. It is time to reintroduce Henry David Thoreau’s, and to a lesser extent, Adam Smith’s moral economies. Both have encourgaging insights, often overlooked by current academic economists, which could figure prominently in the conception of a new economy.
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 4
Eric Katz Geoengineering, Restoration, and the Construction of Nature: Oobleck and the Meaning of Solar Radiation Management
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An old book by children’s author Dr. Seuss can be an inspiration to examine the ethical and ontological meaning of geoengineering. My argument is based on my critique of the process of ecological restoration as the creation of an artifactual reality. When humanity intentionally interferes with the processes and entities of nature, we change the ontological reality of the natural world. The world becomes a garden, or a zoo, an environment that must be continually managed to meet the goals of human purposes. Geoengineering is a more radical and comprehensive example of this process of planetary management. Thus, as with ecological restoration, geoengineering reinforces the paradigm of human mastery and domination of nature. To counteract this dream of domination, we must, as Dr. Seuss instructed us when we were children, learn to live in the natural world with humility.
book reviews
8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 4
Ronnie Hawkins The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World
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9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 4
Paul Keeling Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Nature
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10. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 4
Referees 2015
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11. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 4
Index for 2015
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12. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3
News and Notes
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features
13. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3
Nicole Marshall Toward Special Mobility Rights for Climate Migrants
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The conditions of climate change are increasingly shaping the modern era of international migration; yet the principles and norms that shape the international regime are struggling to keep pace with this reality. Because forced environmental migration is becoming more prominent, it is necessary to respond at the international level. Not only is it the ethical responsibility of the international community to recognize special mobility rights for envi­ronmentally displaced peoples, but further, these rights should be maximized with policy-oriented solutions that sacrifice neither feasibility nor ethical robustness. The mechanisms of dual, tiered, and deterritorialized citizenship are a way to bring special mobility rights for climate migrants into fruition.
14. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3
Shannon Brincat Global Climate Change Justice: From Rawls’ Law of Peoples to Honneth’s Conditions of Freedom
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The problem of global climate changes has raised fundamental questions of justice in world politics centered around the vast discrepancies between the causes and the effects of global warming and the uneven levels of consumption/enjoyment of fossil fuels. The overwhelming majority of approaches in environmental ethics have focused on either distributive justice or rights-based frameworks. Climate change justice, however, can be explored through an alternative framework, an approach based on the recognition theory of Axel Honneth that has not been systematically engaged with in this field. A critique of John Rawls’ The Law of Peoples as an exemplar of distributive approaches reveals a number of limitations inherent in Rawlsian models of climate-change justice. Honneth’s theory of recognition is an advance on distributive models toward a notion of climate justice in which the conditions necessary for the “functioning and flourishment” of human freedom includes climatic stability as a basic social condition. The ideal of mutual recognition provides a basis for environmental protections, including but not limited to the global atmosphere as a necessary condition for the realization of self-autonomy for all human kind.
discussion papers
15. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3
Christopher J. Preston The Multiple Anthropocenes: Toward Fracturing a Totalizing Discourse
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16. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3
Tom Greaves, Rupert Read Where Value Resides: Making Ecological Value Possible
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Distinguishing between the source and the locus of value enables environmental philosophers to consider not only what is of value, but also to try to develop a conception of valuation that is itself ecological. Such a conception must address difficulties caused by the original locational metaphors in which the distinction is framed. This is done by reassessing two frequently employed models of valuation, perception and desire, and going on to show that a more adequate ecological understanding of valuation emerges when these models are fully contextualized in the intersecting life worlds of the ecological community. Ecological evaluation takes place in ongoing encounters between these worlds and a crucial part in this process is assigned to living beings that are “open-endedly open,” that is, open not only to what the world affords them and others, but open to an indefinite field of possible valuational encounters between all kinds of beings. Ecological valuation overcomes some of the conceptual failings of contemporary attempts to evaluate nature: “The Economics of Ecology and Biodiversity” and “Valuing Nature.”
17. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3
Brendan Mackey, David Claudie Points of Contact: Integrating Traditional and Scientific Knowledge for Biocultural Conservation
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Every region of the world is confronted with ongoing ecosystem degradation, species extinctions, and the loss of cultural diversity and knowledge associated with indigenous peoples. We face a global biocultural extinction crisis. The proposition that traditional knowledge along with scientific understanding can inform approaches to solving practical conservation problems has been widely accepted in principle. Attempts to promote a more bilateral approach, however, are hampered by the lack of a common framework for integrating the two knowledge systems in a way that is coherent and useful. This problem can be addressed by drawing upon, as a case study, the principle elements of traditional knowledge and their practical application to governance as articulated by the Kuuku I’yu Northern Kaanju people of Cape York Peninsula, Australia. Four points of contact can help bridge traditional and scientific knowledge in addressing the biocultural crisis: (1) post-normal science; (2) conservation values and goals; (3) land management; and (4) sustainable development. Key insights that emerge from these considerations include the propositions that holders of traditional knowledge can be validly seen as members of the extended peer community needed to address post-normal science problems; that traditional knowledge provide guideposts to the positive values being lost from view by an increasingly urban-based society; that there are practical conservation benefits to be derived from adopting a “two-tool box” approach; and that traditional knowledge provides the basis for criteria to help discern for a given community and landscape the kinds of economic activities which are ecologically and culturally compatible. There are multiple benefits for society that arise from appropriate recognition of biocultural resources in legislation and decision making.
18. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3
Piers H. G. Stephens On the Nature of “Nature”: The Real Meanings and Significance of John Stuart Mill’s Misunderstood Essay
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John Stuart Mill is known as the first canonical Western philosopher to espouse a stationary state of economic growth, and as such he can be seen as an important totemic figure for reformist strategies in environmental ethics. However, his reputation among environmental thinkers has been rendered more ambiguous in recent years by increased attention to his essay “Nature.” The “Nature” essay has been much used lately by critics to oppose claims (1) that independent nature may properly be seen as important in any way as an ethical guide or inspiration, and (2) that Mill’s philosophy may feasibly be viewed as pro-environmentalist. This use of Mill’s essay is mistaken, and has undermined appreciation of the potential significance of Mill’s thought for environmental philosophy. When examining the most detailed of the critical treatments of the essay, reading “Nature” as an anti-environmentalist text badly distorts the essay’s meaning by ripping it from the context of Mill’s intentions as well as from the very specific and significant historical circumstances and biographical conditions of its production. Attending properly to these factors shows that the essay is unrepresentative of Mill’s general position and rather philosophically weaker than its reputation. Reading the text as a definitive statement of Mill’s supposed anti-naturalism is thus mistaken and fails to recognize different modes and significances in “following nature,” some of which Mill supported. The “Nature” essay is an aberrant outlier in the Mill canon, and one which should no longer be allowed to undermine Mill’s strong and important environmentalist credentials.
book reviews
19. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3
Matthew Calarco David Nibert. Animal Oppression and Human Violence: Domesecration, Capitalism, and Global Conflict
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20. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3
Louke van Wensveen Mark Coeckelbergh: Environmental Skill: Motivation, Knowledge, and the Possibility of a Non-Romantic Environmental Ethics
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