Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 11, 2018

Environmental Philosophy

Markku Oksanen
Pages 109-113

Environmental Problem as a Philosophical Problem

The philosophical study of the environment exists because philosophers are concerned about the environmental problems. This concern may not be the only factor that motivates to do environmental philosophy. For some scholars, the topic is philosophically intriguing. This paper suggests that two approaches can be distinguished: practical and philosophical. The starting point of the practical approach is the existence of environmental problems adopted from environmental sciences and public debates. These problems are then analysed philosophically so as to increase our understanding about them. According to the philosophical approach, the focus is on philosophical problems formulated in an environmentally meaningful way but the problems are independent of environmental problems. For example, Routley’s famous “last man” argument stems from the classic problem whether values are independent of valuers or not? Both approaches have their limitations. As to the philosophical approach, the problems under scrutiny are abstract and rather distant from real-life environmental concerns, whereas the practical approach may assume a naïve realist stance to the existence of problems. How to mix the philosophers’ fascination with (pure) intellectual problems with the real-life concerns over environmental degradation is a major challenge for environmental philosophy.