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features
1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
Kenneth Shockley Thinning the Thicket: Thick Concepts, Context, and Evaluative Frameworks
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When Aldo Leopold claimed that “a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community,” he made a conceptual connection between descriptive features of the biotic community and a normative judgment. In conjoining descriptive and normative elements within a single concept Leopold seemed to have been invoking what are now referred to as thick evaluative concepts. Two interpretations of thick concepts that have received increasing attention in environmental ethics are considered here. On one interpretation, the “particularist interpretation,” thick concepts are used to point to the way in which particular features of our environment move us to act. On the other, the “generalist interpretation,” thick concepts are used to invoke a default evaluative standing inseparable from a descriptively characterized kind. Although these interpretations are complementary, without the general interpretation we cannot make ethical sense of the particular instance that moves us to act. Even if particular instantiations of thick concepts have a central and crucial place in environmental ethics, they are only normatively significant within a framework shaped by comparatively thin concepts. Thus, appeals to particularity and locality must be tempered by a broader evaluative context, and the costs of failing to do so are not merely theoretical. As we address global problems through locally motivated action, we need an environmental ethic that makes sense of local values in broad global terms.
2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
Robert Stecker Epistemic Norms, Moral Norms, and Nature Appreciation
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In environmental aesthetics a variety of proposals have been advanced about relevant norms that constrain appropriate aesthetic appreciation of nature. Some of these proposals are about cognitive or epistemic norms in that the authors claim that nature ought to be cognized in certain ways or that we ought to form certain beliefs about nature rather than others, and that when we do so, it will significantly constrain our aesthetic appreciation of nature. Another proposal is that moral norms rule out certain forms of aesthetic appreciation of natural objects and promote others. If these proposals are correct, then different kinds of value interact in the realm of environmental aesthetics. Evaluation of these proposals inevitably involves two parts. One first has to ask whether the purported norms exist. If they do, one has to assess their bearing on evaluative aesthetic judgments. Although there are weak epistemic norms of nature appreciation, they lack important implications sometimes associated with them. The situation is even less promising for moral norms: no one has successfully identified a moral norm that constrains aesthetic appreciation of nature.
discussion papers
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
Chigbo Joseph Ekwealo Metaphysical Background to Igbo Environmental Ethics
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Igbo metaphysics places emphasis on accommodation and respect for all entities in nature irrespective of their ontological placement or status. The belief is that all that is or exists must be accorded their due. It is this consciousness that defines their relationship with the environment, which is basically holistic (ecocentric) to such an extent that environment in all its nature, either as animate (sentient or less sentient) or inanimate, are intricately accommodated in the scheme of things. Human beings are at times prefixed with the attributes of these metaphysical entities. Thus, although there is the inevitable metaphysical duality found in reality, the relationships, for the Igbo, are complimentary, friendly, and non-competitive.
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
Neil A. Manson Anthropocentrism, Exoplanets, and the Cosmic Perspective
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Nonanthropocentric environmental philosophy is a response to two kinds of anthropocentrism: personal anthropocentrism, according to which being human involves the possession of some or all of a set of properties typical of persons, and biological anthropocentrism, according to which being a human involves being a member of the species Homo sapiens. Nonanthropocentric environmental philosophy itself becomes problematic when it is viewed in terms of two arguments that it often seems to imply: the “Planetary Perspective Argument,” which rejects both forms of anthropocentrism and seeks to maximize good outcomes and minimize bad outcomes in terms of life’s point of view, the land’s point of view, or the global ecosystem’s point of view, and the “Cosmic Perspective Argument,” which is structurally analagous to the planetary perspective argument but has much more sweeping empirical premises driven by recent work in cosmology, astrobiology, and exoplanet science. The ultimate problem for environmental philosophers is to find a way to remain nonanthropocentric without succumbing to the indifference of the cosmic perspective.
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
William Jordan, III, Nathaniel F. Barrett, Kip Curtis, Liam Heneghan, Randall Honold Foundations of Conduct: A Theory of Values and Its Implications for Environmentalism
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In their effort to emphasize the positive role of nature in our lives, environmental thinkers have tended to downplay or even to ignore the negative aspects of our experience with nature and, even when acknowledging them, have had little to offer by way of psychologically and spiritually productive ways of dealing with them. The idea that the experience of value begins with the experience of existential shame—arising from awareness of the limitations that define the self—needs to be explored. The primary purpose of the “technologies of the imagination”—myth, symbol, ritual and the arts—is to provide a passage through this shame to the experience of values such as community, meaning, beauty, and the sacred and, through these experiences, to inscribe them into conscience. The implications of this idea for environmental thinking and practice can be explored in two areas involving strong engagement with nature: ecological restoration and the production and eating of food. An environmentalism that fails to provide productive ways of dealing with existential shame may well prove inadequate to the task of providing means for achieving a healthy, sustain­able relationship between humans and the rest of nature.
book reviews
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
Eric Katz Holmes Rolston, III, Three Big Bangs: Matter-Energy, Life, Mind
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7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
Marion Hourdequin Stephen Skrimshire, ed., Future Ethics: Climate Change and Apocalyptic Imagination
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8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
Robert Kirkman Michael Maniates and John M. Meyer, eds., The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice
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9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
Ty Raterman Nathan Kowalsky, ed., Hunting—Philosophy for Everyone: In Search of the Wild Life
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10. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
Jerome A. Stone Allen Verhey, Nature and Altering It
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11. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
Steve Vanderheiden Stephen M. Gardiner, A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change
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12. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
Gregory Caicco David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology
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13. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
Linda S. Jones Kevin C. Elliott. Is a Little Pollution Good for You? Incorporating Societal Values in Environmental Research
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