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11. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 4
News and Notes
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features
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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
18. 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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19. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 4
Paul Keeling, Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Nature
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20. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 4
Referees 2015
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