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Environmental Ethics

Volume 40, Issue 2, Summer 2018
Philosophy of the City and Environmental Ethics

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1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 2
News and Notes
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from the guest editor
2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 2
Shane Epting Philosophy of the City and Environmental Ethics
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3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 2
Diane P. Michelfelder Urban Wildlife Ethics: Beyond “Parallel Planes”
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Philosophical reflections on our ethical responsibilities toward urban wildlife populations have tended to be based on a “parallel planes” framework. This framework is insufficient when it comes to looking after the well-being of city-dwelling wild animals. A different starting-point in thinking about urban wildlife ethics, informed by phenomenology, can bring a number of possible obligations to the fore—for example, an ethics of attentiveness, flexibility, adjustment, and change; virtues associated with an ethic of care from attentiveness through generosity to empathy; and a practice of hospitality. These obligations are moral rather than political; their “ought” is generated from the perspective of an ethic of care.
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 2
Samantha Noll Nonhuman Climate Refugees: The Role that Urban Communities Should Play in Ensuring Ecological Resilience
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Urban residents have the potential to play a key role in helping to facilitate ecological resilience of wilderness areas and ecosystems beyond the city by helping ensure the migration of nonhuman climate refugee populations. Three ethical frameworks related to this issue could determine whether we have an ethical duty to help nonhuman climate refugee populations: ethical individualism, ethical holism, and species ethics. Using each of these frameworks could support the stronger view that policy makers and members of the public have a moral duty to mitigate the impacts of climate induced migration, or the weaker claim that these impacts should be taken into account when making land-use and planning decisions in urban contexts.
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 2
Shane Epting Cohousing, Environmental Justice, and Urban Sustainability
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Several researchers hold that the cohousing movement supports sustainability, but it remains economically restrictive. This condition challenges cohousing’s status as sustainable, considering that its financially exclusive nature fails to meaningfully address sustainability’s social dimension. Yet, it is doubtful that the cohousing movement set out to create this outcome. When we examine the historical conditions that pertain to multifamily housing, we discover a long-standing pattern of discrimination. For today’s cohousing communities, we see that they are dealing with the residual effects of such prejudicial practices. Most of the unfair treatment comes from zoning and lending, but we also see that cohousing has internal challenges that complicate matters. Through employing an environmental justice framework, however, we can parse kinds of responsibility. If planners, financiers, and cohousing communities can remove these barriers, then cohousing can bolster efforts in urban sustainability.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 2
Jason Matteson Walking Away from Chaco Canyon: Gift-Giving, Trust, and Environmental Decision Making in a Pre-State Urban Society
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Around 750 a.d., new settlements in Chaco Canyon in the Southwest United States began moving toward intensified urban form, monumental architecture, and increased hierarchical social organization that bordered on nation-state authority. But around 1140 a.d., the relatively concentrated populations in Chaco Canyon dispersed over just a few generations. At new destinations emigrants from the canyon did not reinstate the urban intensities and political hierarchies that had dominated there. Four lessons from this history can be drawn. First, the model of social and political coordination that best fits the history of Chaco Canyon is one of escalating and deescalating gift-giving. Models that instead appeal to purely transactional relations, such as contracts, are historically and philosophically inadequate. Second, and more broadly, the real power of any well-functioning, complex, and urbanized society must be a reserve of generalized social trust. This was true then, and remains true today. Third, while environmental pressures play important roles in the formation of foundational urban settlements such as those in Chaco Canyon, we should be careful not to explain too much by them. As then, our own environmental challenges call upon us to nurture political arrangements, especially in our cities, that can address environmental constraints and challenges. Except perhaps when circumstances become impossibly dire, we should treat environmental constraints as the boundaries into which we must fit ourselves through political means. Finally, philosophers should investigate developments in historical urban settlements. Such cases are indispensable for understanding human cooperation, forms of social authority, and environmental decision making.
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 2
Brian Elliott Urban Agriculture, Uneven Development, and Gentrification in Portland, Oregon
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Portland, Oregon enjoys a growing reputation as a beacon of urban sustainability. Its modern planning history has seen effectve efforts to curb urban sprawl and introduce a comprehensive mass transit system. More recently, the city has also become a hub for a “makers” movement involving a plethora of local, small-scale craft production. Within this context, Portland is also home to a thriving urban agriculture scene, featuring community gardens, community-assisted agriculture, farmers’ markets, food co-ops, and various farm-based education and outreach programs. While recent case studies of Portland insist that the social sustainability case made for urban agriculture (UA) remains open, this position is arguably unwarranted and lacks an adequate grasp of the critical urban geography perspective developed in the work of David Harvey and Neil Smith. Following the lead of what Chiara Tornaghi calls “the critical geography of urban agriculture,” Portland’s urban agriculture should, on the whole, be seen as an adjunct to rather than a resistance movement against advanced neo­liberal urban governance.
book reviews
8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 2
Robert Wilson Environmental Humanities: Voices from the Anthropocene
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9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 2
Holmes Rolston, III The Synthetic Age: Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengingeering our World
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