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41. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
W. S. K. Cameron Can We Afford the Tough Love of Liberals?: A Deflationary Look at Garrett Hardin’s Lifeboat Ethic
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In two shocking articles that appeared in 1968 and 1974, Garrett Hardin argued that the population explosion was producing a “tragedy of the commons.” Since we lack an effective method of sharing common resources, the strong incentive for individuals to appropriate them selfishly would soon lead to their collapse. To mitigate this danger, Hardin proposed a “lifeboat ethic”: less populated and -polluted Western countries should deny food aid to developing nations, where it would save lives only to increase population pressure, and they should close their borders to immigration to prevent their lifeboats from becoming overcrowded and going down with the rest. This paper challenges and complicates Hardin’s account of the tragedy. While there is something right about his view, its vulnerability to a series of empirical challenges reflects its conceptual limitations. I argue that we need to develop a broadly ethical and arguably religious solution to the twin challenges of population growth and pollution. If the liberal commitment to negative freedom is, ironically, largely responsible for our current ecological bind, our only hope of escape is to build bridges between traditions in search of a thicker sense of ethicopolitical obligation.
42. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Heather Douglas Boundaries between Science and Policy: Descriptive Difficulty and Normative Desirability
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In the debate over the role of science in environmental policy, it is often assumed that science can and should be clearly demarcated from policy. In this paper, I will argue that neither is the case. The difficulty of actually differentiating the scientific arena from the policy arena becomes apparent the moment one attempts to actually locate the boundary. For example, it is unclear whether scientific summaries to be used by regulatory agencies are in the realm of science or policy. If science, then should the authors consider the regulatory implications of uncertainties? If policy, then what is the relevance of a peer review of the document solely by scientists? This descriptive problem is only accentuated by a normative problem: should we try to keep the two realms distinct? The traditional answer has been yes, for the primary reason that the science should not be infected by the social and ethical values so prevalent in the policy realm. I will argue that, to the contrary, social and ethical values are desirable components of scientific reasoning. Indeed, on closer examination, the norms for valuesin reasoning are the same for science and policy. If I am correct, the pressure to delineate science from policy abates.
43. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Adam Briggle Visions of Nantucket: The Aesthetics and Policy of Wind Power
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Natural science and economics are regularly used as means for adjudicating environmental controversies. But can these become stalking-horses for other concerns? Might some environmental controversies be aesthetic in nature and likely to resist resolution unless and until we acknowledge this? This paper uses the case study of a proposed wind farm to examine the relationships between the humanities, sciences, and stakeholders in environmental decision making. After providing background on wind power and the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm, it addresses four questions: What does “aesthetics” mean? Howwere aesthetic concerns expressed in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and what were the shortcomings of the EIS process? How could it be improved? This last question raises issues about how to rationally adjudicate matters of aesthetics in environmental policy making. The paper concludes with some thoughts on why this is such an important (and thorny) issue and what role humanists should play in environmental disputes.
44. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Joshua Mason Report on Books and Articles
45. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Joseph P. Lawrence Beauty Beyond Appearance: Nature and the Transcendent
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Environmental philosophers tend to be particularly wary of the language of “transcendence.” From Heidegger to contemporary feminism, we find the idea that the failure to respect nature is grounded in Platonism and Abrahamic religion. The denial of earth began, we are told, with the separation of the intelligible form from the actual thing, or, even worse, of the creator from the created. From this point of view what we need is a restored pantheistic sense, a new and revitalized paganism. I counter this assertion by a reading of Plato’s Phaedrus that shows that respect itself is grounded in the recognition of transcendence. With the Bookof Job, I maintain that the voice of the transcendent God is what enables Job not only to see past his sufferings but for the first time to encounter the beauty of nature. Overcoming anthropocentrism requires a relationship to transcendence as such.
46. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
John Mizzoni, Ph.D. A Case Study in Environmental Conflict: The Two Pennsylvania Environmentalists Rachel Carson and Gifford Pinchot
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Gifford Pinchot (1865-1946) was a noted forestry expert, a conservationist, and governor of Pennsylvania. Rachel Carson (1907-1964), celebrated for her groundbreaking books that raised awareness of the negative human impact on the natural environment, was born, raised, and educated in Pennsylvania. Although these Pennsylvanians are both environmentalists, they approached the natural environment very differently and embody two main positions in contemporary environmental ethics. After situating their environmental legacies among contemporary environmental ethics, this paper then discusses implications of the irreconcilability of their positions on environmental progress; the concept of environmental legacy; and the importance of reflecting on the lives of environmentalists like Pinchot and Carson.
47. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Robert Kirkman Ethics and Scale in the Built Environment
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On the way to a phenomenology of the moral space within which people make decisions about the built environments they inhabit, I take up Bryan Norton’s proposal for a non-linear, multi-scalar approach to environmental ethics. Inspired by a recent development in ecology, hierarchy theory, Norton’s key insight is that ethical concerns play themselves out across distinct spatio-temporal scales. I adapt this insight to the context of the built environment by way of a phenomenology of constraint as a scaling criterion, then go on to specify how ethical concerns might be mapped onto the complex scalar relationships thus revealed.
48. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Ted Toadvine Gestalts and Refrains: On the Musical Structure of Nature
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Western philosophy and culture have often posited a structural homology between music and nature. In a contemporary version of this association, deep ecologist Arne Naess proposes that the basic units of reality are hierarchically nested gestalts of a fundamentally relational character. I argue that Naess’s gestalt model fails to account for non-holistic or non-sensical experiences and for creative change in nature. I then suggest the concept of the “refrain”developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari as the basis for an alternative musical model of nature that avoids these limitations.
49. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
James D. Hatley Techne and Phusis: Wilderness and the Aesthetics of the Trace in Andrew Goldsworthy
50. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Scott Cameron, Kenneth Maly, Ingrid Leman Stefanovic EDITORIAL PREFACE
51. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Dennis Skocz Wilderness Management and Geospatial Technology: A View from the Black Forest
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The paper uses Heideggerian concepts of world to contrast the lived environment of the animal in the wild to nature as [re]constructed through Geographical Information Systems (GIS). With the animal Umwelt and GIS Weltbilt/Ge-stell side by side, we can see the “contradiction” between the animal’s lived space and the techno-human space of GIS, appreciate the risk of the GIS-constructed world to animals in the wild, and seek a way to address the risk. The paper suggests that humans, as beings which properly have a world, can stand as fiduciaries for nonhuman animals in relation to the peculiar risk of geospatial environmental management technology.
52. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Joshua Mason Report on Books and Articles
53. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Adam Briggle, Robert Frodeman, J. Britt Holbrook Introducing a Policy Turn in Environmental Philosophy
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This essay inaugurates a commitment to devote a small part of Environmental Philosophy to reflection on how environmental philosophers can better engage scientists and decisionmakers already involved in their own conversation about the environment. Philosophers generally have not made the question of how to make philosophy a relevant or useful part of their philosophical research. By way of introduction, we begin to articulate a theoretical framework for how we might integrate the humanities, philosophy in general, and environmental philosophy in particular with issues of public policy via a practical engagement of scholars across the humanities in a conversation that simultaneously invites non-academics within and takes us beyond the walls of academe.
54. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Florence R. Shepard Commentary on “Our Recent Rousseau”: “On Paul Shepard”
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In the “Commentary” on “Our Recent Rousseau: on Paul Shepard,” the author praises Lawrence Cahoone’s comprehensive and critical analysis of Shepard’s interdisciplinary scholarship in the field of human ecology, in particular, his theories of the wild and hunting and the contributions of archaic cultures to civilization. The author then elaborates further on the importance of the Paul Shepard’s unifying ideas of evolution, ontogeny, and neoteny to the understanding of the psychohistory of human development.
55. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Sean Williams Chiasmic Wildness
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Whether one’s attention lies with the big wilderness outside or the wild people and places that survive amidst our ecologically impoverished cities and towns, a thorough and rigorous reflection on wildness remains as a task for environmental philosophy. The political and literary movements concerned with the wilderness have sparked passion, insight, and moments of brilliance, but by and large leave us today at best confused, and at worst naïve, with respect to our thinking of wildness. The attempts at philosophical rigor from the ‘fields’ of so-called ‘environmental philosophy’ or ‘environmental ethics’ certainly bring one nofurther toward understanding the experiences of, say, 500 miles of tundra, or the power and push of a river, or the density of a rainforest, or a kiss. Keeping the illumination of direct experience in mind, this paper will attempt a phenomenology of wildness, using the work of 20th century French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of chiasm describes a perceptual relationship of intertwining, of intimacy and opacity, between Self and Other, in which the Other’s presence guides one’s own perceptions. Reflection around this chiasmic exchange may help us to understand the peculiar perceptual experience with what we call the wild, and perhaps to understand it as a sort of chiasmic wildness. This chiasmic wildness would not be incarcerated in wilderness areas or wild animals, but would exist in our embodied relationships with other people, animals, plants, and places. This paper is offered as an attempt at reflection, as what Martin Heidegger called a Holzweg: wandering down a path that may lead nowhere, but that must be followed beyond where one stands today.
56. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Stephen B. Scharper Liberation Theology’s Critique of the Developmentalist Worldview: Implications for Religious Environmental Engagement
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As the world’s religious communities become more involved in environmental concerns, the question arises as to whether their most significant contributions are in the realm of worldviews, doctrine, and cosmology, or rather in the realm of political and economic critique and an articulation of social justice concerns arising from ecological despoliation. After reviewing liberation theology’s early critique of economic developmentalism, as well as its more recent treatment of ecological concerns, this paper suggests that liberation theology is in fact positing a cosmological as well as political and economic critique of modernity, which proffers conduits of dialogue with other environmental approaches.
57. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Scott Cameron, Kenneth Maly, Ingrid Leman Stefanovic EDITORIAL PREFACE
58. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
David Wood On the Way to Econstruction
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Environmentalism finds itself facing problems and aporiae which deconstruction helps us address. But equally, environmental concerns can embolden deconstruction to embrace a strategic materialism – the essential interruptibility of every idealization. Moreover, deconstruction’s critique of presence opens us to the strange temporalities of environmentalism: needing to act before we have proof, and for the benefit of future humans. The history of the earth is a singular sequence, ideographic – concrete, not rule governed, and not to be repeated. French ‘anti-humanism’ is not eco-fascism, but precisely adapted to our current situation, where the privilege of the human as a well-meaning but toxic terrestrial, is questioned. I argue for the renewed privilege of the human if the new human embodies a proper respect for otherness and for difference. Why not extend Derrida’s democracy-to-come to the (imaginary) parliament of the living? Derrida agreed that environmental destruction needed to be on any short list of the plagues of the new world order. Deconstruction as econstruction helps us address some of the complexities it throws up.
59. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Lawrence Cahoone Our Recent Rousseau: On Paul Shepard
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Paul Shepard, a Rousseau armed with modern evolutionary ecology, presents our most rational primitivism. In his work, ecology recapitulates mythology. His critique of civilization compares to 20th century critics of “alienation,” except for Shepard the break with “authentic” existence is not Modern industrialism but Neolithic agrarianism. His argument remains largely impractical. Yet his late work suggests a reasonable meliorism. He recognized that his “Techno-Cynegeticism” may find room in a postmodern society that is hostile to agro-industrial, but not to what Ernest Gellner called “Durkheimian” or pre-agrarian,social forms. Hope for the wild lies not in razing the modern “system” but in riddling it with restored wild lacunae. Or, paraphrasing Thoreau, the salvation of the world lies in the feral.
60. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
John R. White Ecological Value Cognition and the American Capitalist Ethos
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In this paper, I investigate what I call “ecological value cognition,” a term designating a cognitive process by which one understands: (1) a value or set of values which pertain to the environment, (2) that such values are morally relevant, and (3) that these values may invite or even require virtues, attitudes or actions with respect to them and the entities which bear them. I seek, in this paper, to elucidate the nature of ecological value cognition and suggest specific challenges that the American capitalist ethos poses for understanding these values and therefore for developing a sound environmental ethics and policy.