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1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 4
News and Notes
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features
2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 4
W. S. K. Cameron Tapping Habermas’s Discourse Theory for Environmental Ethics
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Although other quasi-Kantian theories have been adapted, Jürgen Habermas’s discourse theory has been largely ignored in discussions of environmental ethics. Indeed on some versions of what an environmental philosophy must entail, Habermas’s anthropocentric approach must be disqualified from the start. Yet, there are some environmentally friendly implications of his discourse theory. They may not give us everything we would wish, but in the contemporary political context we must treasure any moral theory that can draw on the still-extensive theoretical and political resources of liberalism.
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 4
Cecilia Wee Mencius and the Natural Environment
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Environmental ethicists who look toward East Asian philosophies in their quest for a fruitful way of conceiving the relationship of humans to nature often turn to Taoism and Buddhism for inspiration. They rarely turn to Confucianism. Moreover, among those who do look to Confucianism for inspiration, almost no attention is given to the early Confucians, most likely because they are seen as embracing a humanist perspective—that is, they are concerned with how humans should relate to other humans and with the flourishing of human societies. An initial examination of an early Confucian, Mencius, who did consider his attitude toward nature, suggests that he viewed the natural world only as an instrument to promote human welfare. However, this account is not entirely fair to him, for an expansion of Mencius’ fundamental tenets can lead to an interesting account of the relation of humans and nature—one that balances human concerns with respect for nature. Mencius would very likely have endorsed this expansion.
discussion papers
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 4
Aaron Simmons Do Animals Have an Interest in Continued Life?: In Defense of a Desire-Based Approach
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Do we do anything wrong to animals simply by ending their lives if it causes them no pain or suffering? According to some, we can do no wrong to animals by killing them because animals do not have an interest in continued life. An attempt to ground an interest in continued life in animals’ desires faces the challenge that animals are supposedly incapable of desiring to live or of having the kinds of long-range desires which could be thwarted by death. Some philosophers argue that death harms animals not because it thwarts their desires, but rather because it forecloses their future opportunities for satisfaction. However, this argument is problematic because (1) it’s unclear that animals’ future opportunities belong to the same continuing selves and (2) it’s unclear why we should think that animals’ future opportunities have value for them. A more promising argument holds that many animals have an interest in continued life insofar as they possess certain enjoyments in life, where animals’ enjoyments are best understood not merely as fleeting experiences but rather as dispositional desires which animals continue to possess over time.
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 4
Tim B. Rogers Nature of the Third Kind: Toward an Explicitly Relational Constructionism
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One aspect of social constructionist thought, which seldom receives the kind of explicit attention it warrants, has considerable potential: namely, the observation that our limited knowings of the world are achieved in numerous, yet deeply particularized, relational engagements in and with it. Foregrounding and elaborating such relational engagements provides an alternate way of developing a typology of constructionist thought. By emphasizing relationality as inherent in both social constructionism and many environmental and deep ecological positions, a potentially useful and powerful way of bringing the so-called warring factions to the treaty table emerges. A tripartite scheme of “natures,” focusing on relationality with the natural world, can provide a framework for dissolving some of the disputes in the literature, such as deep ecology’s current discomfort with constructionist thought.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 4
David Graham Henderson The Possibility of Managing for Wilderness
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Wilderness is often understood as land untouched by people. On this reading, wilderness management seems to be a simple contradiction, but it is in fact a thriving and functional practice. Wilderness is not simply an absence of human influence, but the presence of something else. Wilderness is land characterized by the flourishing of natural purpose. When this is understood, wilderness management becomes intelligible and several recent criticisms of wilderness preservation are defused.
book reviews
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 4
David K. Goodin Living with Ambiguity: Religious Naturalism and the Menace of Evil
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8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 4
Frank W. Derringh Nature and Landscape: An Introduction to Environmental Aesthetics
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9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 4
Tom Spector Environmental Dilemmas: Ethical Decision Making
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10. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 4
Aaron Lercher The Human Right to a Green Future: Environmental Rights and Intergenerational Justice
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11. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 4
Dana Anderson Going Away to Think: Engagement, Retreat, and Ecocritical Responsibility
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referees
12. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 4
Referees 2009
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index
13. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 4
Index to Volume 31
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14. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
News And Notes
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features
15. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Piers H. G. Stephens Toward a Jamesian Environmental Philosophy
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William James’s radical empiricism and pragmatism constitutes a philosophy that can reconcile the split between intrinsic value theorists, who stress the development and relevance of theoretical axiology, and pragmatists who have favored a more direct emphasis on environmental policy and application. By distinguishing James’s emphasis on direct personal experience from John Dewey’s more socialized approach, James’s distinctive emphasis on the transformative possibilities of pure experience and his links to romantic sensibility enable us to articulate and validate the noninstrumental aspects of experienced environmental values that anti-pragmatists habitually regard pragmatism as unable to speak for. Using James’s framework to explicate and support Anthony Weston’s radically noninstrumental “immediate values” better expresses the felt noninstrumental worth of nature than intrinsic value theory can. Nonetheless, a rapprochement between the two sides is possible: although James’s pragmatic naturalism is the framework that can best capture nature’s experienced noninstrumental worth and link it to wider human values, intrinsic value theory has real practical application in the realm of law, and pragmatists can support it in that domain, thus upholding the primary emphasis on practicality and policy that is usually seen as pragmatism’s main strength.
16. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Adam Konopka Ecological Goods that Obligate: A Husserlian Approach
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Phenomenological resources can be used to develop a nonanthropocentric theory of ecological values that gives rise to an obligation for moral agents. There is logical space in Edmund Husserl’s early theory of value that is inclusive of nonhuman animals and vegetation as members of a life community (Lebensgemeinschaft) possessing ecological characteristics. Within this legal space is a characterization of ecological obligation that is not tied to any single moral law, as it is in deontological ethics and utilitarianism, but founded on the complex value nexus of a given ecological community. Rather than judging the “rightness” or “wrongness” of actions on the law-based and single-rule philosophical theories of normativity found in modern humanism, this Husserlian inspired account locates a conception of ecological obligation that is immanent to the values operative in a given environing world. This particular experience of ecological obligation arises when the valuation of the goods of individual members of the ecological community conflict with one another and the weighing of these competing goods is appropriately accomplished in light of a communal good.
discussion papers
17. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Eva-Maria Simms Eating One’s Mother: Female Embodiment in a Toxic World
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Breast milk and the placenta are phenomena of female human embodiment that challenge the philosophical notion of separate, sovereign subjects independent of other human be­ings and an objective world “out there.” A feminist phenomenological analysis, indebted to Merleau-Ponty and Irigaray, reveals placenta and milk to be intercorporeal, “chiasmic” forms of shared organic existence. This analysis is a philosophical and psychological exploration of “matrotopy,” i.e., the fact that humans eat their mothers through breast milk and placenta. This exploration, however, requires an understanding of the larger environmental field which sustains the female body and its offspring. Environmental degradation, particularly through estrogen mimicking substances in plastics and pesticides, targets the endocrine system of developing fetuses and endangers the future of the human species from the inside. Invisible organo-chemical technologies pose a new and immediate danger and ethical challenge to women and men in the twenty-first century. A “placental ethics” respects the insertion of the human being into the dynamic field of nature; it calls for an awareness that, unless we develop a changed attitude toward technology, the gradual extinction of our species continues to happen in female bodies today.
18. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Nicole Note Why It Definitely Matters How We Encounter Nature
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Our natural environment is in a lamentable state, notwithstanding today’s increasing ecological awareness. One cause frequently cited is our diminished perception of and relation to nature on ontological grounds. None of the alternative visions offered to date has been considered to really challenge the prevailing detached utilitarian and empirical framework. However, continued attempts on various levels are needed to rearticulate and reinvigorate the currently dormant and neglected plurality of approaches to nature. Although neither Heidegger nor Levinas was primarily concerned with the relation of humans to nature, their works do seem to offer a voice to express our genuine way of being as a “Dasein in the world,” and the depth of its implications, as well as to reveal the “exteriority of nature.” A close examination of their views can show how they may contribute to a broadening of our perception, so that nature may appear to us not primarily as a commodity but foremost as an inspiring source of meaningfulness that at the same time appeals to our ethical ability.
19. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Martin Drenthen Fatal Attraction: Wildness in Contemporary Film
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The concept of wildness not only plays a role in philosophical debates, but also in popular culture. Wild nature is often seen as a place outside the cultural sphere where one can still encounter instances of transcendence. Some writers and moviemakers contest the dominant romanticized view of wild nature by telling stories that somehow show a different harsher face of nature. In encounters with the wild and unruly, humans can sometimes experience the misfit between their well-ordered, human-centered, self-created world view and the otherness of nature, and in doing so face, what Plumwood calls, “the view from the outside.” Three films—Gerry, Into the Wild, and Grizzly Man—deal with contemporary encounters with wildness. What these works have in common is the central theme of modern humans who are fascinated by wild nature and seek experiences unknown to those limited to the overly cultivated life (psyche) of modern society. Another connecting theme, however, is that any idealization of wildness is in itself deeply problematic. All three films have fatal endings, which in turn fascinates the contemporary viewers. These films show, first, that wildness is conceived as a moral counterforce against the overly civilized world; and, second, that fascination with this wildness has itself become thoroughly reflexive, and
book reviews
20. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Costas Panayotakis Defining Environmental Justice: Theories, Movements, and Nature
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