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1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 4
News and Notes
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features
2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 4
Paul Knights, David Littlewood, Dan Firth Eco-Minimalism as a Virtue
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Eco-minimalism is an emerging approach to building design, construction, and retrofitting. The approach is exemplified by the work of architect Howard Liddell and sustainable water management consultant Nick Grant. The fundamental tenet of this approach is an opposition to the use of inappropriate, unnecessary, and ostentatious eco-technology—or “eco-bling”—where the main emphasis is on being seen to be green. The adoption of the principles of the eco-minimalist approach offers, they argue, a significant opportunity to improve sustainability in construction. However, a critical examination of eco-minimalism as a design philosophy shows that eco-minimalism needs to be further developed within the framework of virtue ethics. The focus should be on two main themes: (1) incommensurabilities arising in relation to eco-minimalism’s goals of minimizing environmental impact and maximizing human benefit, which cannot be resolved from the principles Liddell and Grant have articulated, and (2) the practical importance of cultivating settled dispositions to act eco-minimally on the part of those who design, construct, and use buildings. A strong emphasis needs to be placed on the role of practical wisdom when navigating challenging decisions of the kind facing eco-minimalists in practice.
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 4
Paul Haught Environmental Virtues and Environmental Justice
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Environmental virtue ethics (EVE) can be applied to environmental justice. Environmental justice refers to the concern that many poor and nonwhite communities bear a disproportionate burden of risk of exposure to environmental hazards compared to white and/or economically higher-class communities. The most common applied ethical response to this concern—that is, to environmental injustice—is the call for an expanded application of human rights, such as requirements for clean air and water. The virtue-oriented approach can be made consistent with such calls, but there are broader applications as well that generate unique strategies for moral responsiveness and for expanding the role of moral philosophers in civic affairs.
discussion papers
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 4
Manuel Arias-Maldonado Let’s Make It Real: In Defense of a Realistic Constructivism
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The relationship between society and nature has an outstanding importance in the fields of environmental philosophy and sociology. It is dominated by the opposition between realism and constructivism, i.e., between those who argue that nature is an entity independent of society and those who respond that nature is a social construction. Such conflict is usually solved by accepting that nature exists, but our knowledge of it can only be socially mediated. However, a new version of constructivism can be defended, one which pays enough attention to the material dimension of society and nature’s interaction. Society has always intervened upon nature and the final outcome of such historical process has been the transformation of nature into human environment. A realistic constructivism allows us to highlight that decisive feature of socio-natural interaction.
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 4
Adam Riggio John Dewey as a Philosopher of Contingency and the Value of this Idea for Environmental Philosophy
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In recent years, scholars studying the writing of the American pragmatist philosopher John Dewey have attempted to use his ethical ideas to construct a viable environmental ethics. This endeavor has found limited success and generated some intriguing debates, but has been found wanting in many areas important to environmental ethicists of the twenty-first century. In particular, the humanist motivations behind many of his ethical writings stand in the way of a philosophy that takes nonhumans seriously. However, there is much environmental philosophers can learn from Dewey, not from his ethics, but from his ontological writings. A concept of the contingency of existence, found in Dewey, in particular in Experience and Nature, can be the foundation for a robust, if dark, ecological philosophy.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 4
Bryan E. Bannon Re-Envisioning Nature: The Role of Aesthetics in Environmental Ethics
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The discussion of environmental aesthetics as it relates to ethics has primarily been concerned with how to harmonize aesthetic judgments of nature’s beauty with ecological judgments of nature’s health. This discussion brings to our attention the need for new perceptual norms for the experience of nature. Hence, focusing exclusively on the question of whether a work of “environmental art” is good or bad for the ecological health of a system occludes the important role such works can play in formulating new perceptual norms and metaphors for nature. To illustrate this point, the work of sculptor Andy Goldsworthy presents us with a different perception of time that is ethically useful.
book reviews
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 4
Shane Ralston The Nature Study Movement
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8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 4
Chris Nagel Ark of the Possible: The Animal World in Merleau-Ponty
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9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 4
Referees 2011
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10. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 4
Index to Volume 33
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11. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 3
News and Notes
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features
12. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 3
Emily Brady, Eugene C. Hargrove Announcing the Winner of the Holmes Rolston, III Early Career Essay Prize
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13. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 3
Joakim Sandberg “My Emissions Make No Difference”: Climate Change and the Argument from Inconsequentialism
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“Since the actions I perform as an individual only have an inconsequential effect on the threat of climate change,” a common argument goes, “it cannot be morally wrong for me to take my car to work everyday or refuse to recycle.” This argument has received a lot of scorn from philosophers over the years, but has actually been defended in some recent articles. A more systematic treatment of a central set of related issues (moral mathematics, collective action, side effects, green virtues) shows how maneuvering around these issues is no easy philosophical task. In the end, it appears, the argument from inconsequentialism indeed is correct in typical cases, but there are also important qualificatory considerations.
14. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 3
Nancy M. Rourke Prudence Gone Wild: Catholic Environmental Virtue Ethics
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A Catholic environmental virtue ethic must include an understanding of prudence that incorporates attunement significantly. Catholic theologians are reluctant to revise notions of prudence, but there are traditions in theology that support such an approach. Catholic virtue ethical traditions point to this necessity, and, in addition, philosophical environmental virtue ethics (which are much more fully developed) simply insist on it. The comparison of a moral character (as it is understood in virtue ethics) with a bioregion’s ecosystem helps support this argument.
discussion papers
15. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 3
Kristen Hessler Agricultural Biotechnology and Environmental Justice
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Agricultural biotechnology has long been criticized from an environmental justice perspective. However, an analysis, using golden rice as a case study, shows that golden rice is not susceptible to the main criticisms that are appropriate when directed at most products of agricultural biotechnology, and that golden rice has important humanitarian potential. For these reasons, an environmental justice evaluation of golden rice may need to be more nuanced and complex than a more traditional environmental ethics can provide. Study of the complexity of this issue may pay off in a more effective environmentalism on its own terms.
16. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 3
Kate Booth In Wilderness and Wildness: Recognizing and Responding within the Agency of Relational Memory
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There is a complexity of entities and happenings embodied within the pillars that frame the doorways in our homes and support the broad flat spaces that form supermarkets and department stores. Each pillar speaks to the mythology encircling the origins of Gothic architecture; the ideas surrounding the shift from the trunks and boughs of the sacred grove toward the columns, arches, and vaults of church and cathedral. Each pillar embodies the evolution of life and the history of the Earth. Awakening toward the relational agency at play within the “humanly derived” allows us to recognize this agency as akin to wildness and as William Cronon asserts, this kinship draws us closer to recognizing and responding to the wild in all that surrounds us. It also produces a shift in how we understand the concept of wilderness. It is not, as Cronon contends, a cultural construct, but a fluxing and complex gestalt that includes both human and more-than-human agency.
17. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 3
Chris Klassen Nature Religion and the Ethics of Authenticity: “I Won’t Speak for All of You”
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In The Ethics of Authenticity, Charles Taylor speaks of the malaises of modernity in which individualism and authenticity lose their moral force by becoming simply a type of relativism and/or soft despotism. In contrast, Taylor suggests that individualism and authenticity need to be understood as holding moral salience through the dialogical nature of human life and the external horizons of meaning necessary to the very formulation of the authentic self. Individual choice only makes sense when some choices are more socially, politically, and/or ethically valuable than others. Taylor’s discussion of the ethics of authenticity can be applied to the religious movement of contemporary Paganism and the marked hesitation on the part of Pagans to claim any expected responsibility on the part of other Pagans toward nature and/or the environment.
18. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 3
Robin Attfield Sober, Environmentalists, Species, and Ignorance
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In an influential paper, Elliott Sober raises philosophical problems for environmentalism, and proposes a basis for being an environmentalist without discarding familiar, traditional ethical theories, a basis consisting in the aesthetic value of nature and natural entities. Two of his themes are problematic. One is his objection to arguments from the unknown value of endangered species, which he designates “the argument from ignorance,” but which should instead be understood as arguments from probability. The other concerns his attempt to avoid holistic value theories by appealing to aesthetic value. If one invokes Derek Parfit’s response to the non-identity problem, one can appeal to another tradition-related approach that Sober neglects, which can readily be employed in support of species preservation without disparaging aesthetic value or endorsing holistic theories.
book reviews
19. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 3
Kara M. Schlichting The Decline of Nature: Environmental History and the Western Worldview
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20. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 3
Roger Paden From Bauhaus to Ecohouse: A History of Ecological Design
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