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61. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Ingrid Leman Stefanovic EDITORIAL PREFACE
62. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Adam Briggle, Robert Frodeman, Scott F. Aikin Commentary on Democratic “Deliberation, Public Reason, and Environmental Politics”
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Editors’ Note: We decided that a commentary to the original Aikin essay from the perspective of humanities policy would be beneficial. We then invited Scott Aikin to respond to this commentary. What follows is (a) the Briggle/Frodeman commentary and (b) the Aikin response. We present the discussion in its entirety in the conviction that this transparency will help the reader to critically assess the viability of these arguments and to draw his/her own conclusion as to the efficacy of such reasoning for environmental philosophy as such.
63. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Joan Maloof The Thing Itself, under Asphalt
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Where is the disconnect between what we consider beautiful, and how we actually shape our surroundings? Is there something about humans coming together as civilizations that results in the destruction of beauty and biodiversity? This essay examines the world through the history of forests – and it raises more questions than it answers – but the questions are of vital importance.
64. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
65. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
William Edelglass Moral Pluralism, Skillful Means, and Environmental Ethics
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J. Baird Callicott claims that moral pluralism leads to relativism, skepticism, and the undermining of moral obligations. Buddhist ethics provides a counterexample to Callicott; it is a robust tradition of moral pluralism. Focusing on one of the most significant texts in Buddhist ethics, Śāntideva’s Bodhicaryāvatāra, I show how it draws on a multiplicity of moral principles determined by context and skillful means (upāya kauśalya). In contrast to Callicott’s description of pluralism as detrimental to moral life, I suggest that South Asian Buddhist traditions provide a model of moral reasoning that is both robust and flexible, a model appropriate for the many kinds of moral obligations that arise in the context of environmental ethics.
66. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Christian Diehm Ethics and Natural History: Levinas and Other-Than-Human Animals
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This essay questions the place of other-than-human animals in Levinas’s thought. After detailing how animals and animality figure in Levinas’s work, it is claimed that his ethical exclusion of animals is due to a conception of animals as wholly accountable for in terms of species-being, wholly within “naturalhistory.” It is then suggested that Levinas’s position is ill-founded, and at odds with his claims about the importance of suffering and the vulnerable body in the encounter with the other. The essay concludes by arguing that speaking of other-than-human animal “faces” is not necessarily an unduly anthropocentricextension of thinking-of-the-other.
67. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
W.S.K. Cameron Wilderness in the City: Not Such a Long Drive After All
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Over the last few years, the concept of “wilderness” has come under attack by environmentalists deeply committed to sustaining the natural world. Their criticisms are pointed and undeniably strong; moreover as I will argue, very similar critiques could be made of its putative counter-concept, “the city.” Yet in both cases, we need not simply reject the concepts themselves as incoherent; our challenge is rather to develop resources rich enough to show that and why they must stand in a constructive tension. I will close by outlining the possibility and productivity of this development through hermeneutic reflections inspired by the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer.
68. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Scott F. Aikin Democratic Deliberation, Public Reason, and Environmental Politics
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The activity of democratic deliberation is governed by the norm of public reason – namely, that reasons justifying public policy must both be pursuant of shared goods and be shareable by all reasonable discussants. Environmental policies based on controversial theories of value, as a consequence, are in danger of breaking the rule that would legitimate their enforcement.
69. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Alan Drengson, Tim Quick Gestalts, Refrains, and Philosophical Pluralism: A Response to Toadvine
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This paper is a response to Ted Toadvine’s article “Gestalts and Refrains: On the Musical Structure of Nature,” in Environmental Philosophy 2.2 (2005). We propose a more generous interpretation of Naess’s gestalt ontology, one that we believe mitigates Toadvine’s criticisms. Gestalt ontology and refrain ontology offer two different yet compatible ontologies for environmental philosophers searching for viable alternatives to scientific reductionism. Encouraging many ontologies also encourages a rich philosophical pluralism.
70. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1/2
Galen A. Johnson Forest and Philosophy: Toward an Aesthetics of Wood
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This paper initiates a phenomenological study of the aesthetics of forest and wood in three main phases. First, we consider the modalities of wood’s sensuousness and argue against the formalist tradition that restricts aesthetic appreciation to visual forms. Second, we examine the structural, eidetic features of hand-made wooden objects in the “second life” of trees. Third, we engage in reflections on the communities gathered by the first and second lives of trees. These themes outline an aesthetics of the beautiful, the given, and the gathering. We take philosophical inspiration from Merleau-Ponty throughout, and in the end, also Thoreau.
71. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1/2
Brook Muller Continuity of Singularities: Urban Architectures, Ecology and the Aesthetics of Restorative Orders
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Environmental designers employ ordering systems as a means of achieving spatial clarity and richness of organization while contending with the complexities that characterize design endeavors. This paper considers aesthetic potentialities when built and natural orders are considered together, specifically when an architectural investigation and ecological restoration are articulated as one integrated problem. After considering a range of approaches to the ordering the built and natural, I look to Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s notion of ‘continuity of singularities’ as intimating an ‘aesthetics of the indeterminate’ that encourages a desired nuance, openness to the unforeseen and respect for the (ecologically) particular.
72. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1/2
Max Oelschlaeger Ecological Restoration, Aldo Leopold, and Beauty: An Evolutionary Tale
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While the conceptual depths of Aldo Leopold’s land ethic have been limned by environmental ethicists, the relevance of his philosophy to ecologicalrestoration—an applied environmental science—is less well known. I interpret some of his contributions to ecological restoration by framing his work within an expanded evolutionary frame. I especially emphasize the importance of natural beauty to his thinking. Recontextualized as a manifestation of emergent evolutionary complexity, the beauty of nature is fundamental not only to strong ecological restoration, but to reframing our own self-conceptualizations—that is, the human place in the larger order of nature.
73. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1/2
James Jackson Griffith Applying Systemic Thinking for Teaching Disturbed-Land Reclamation In Brazil
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This paper discusses the suitability of using systemic thinking for teaching environmental rehabilitation to undergraduate students at Federal Universityof Viçosa. This is a predominantly agricultural sciences-based institution located in southeast Brazil. Student receptivity is discussed given concurrent campus paradigms of positivism, Marxism, and individualistic utilitarianism. Student projects using causal-loop diagrams to model degradation and land reclamation are presented. Eight archetypes common to systemic thinking are explained in reclamation contexts. Limitations of systemic thinking are discussed, including theoretical modeling problems and practical teaching considerations.
74. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1/2
James Hatley Sensing Environmentalism Anew: Gestate Witness of a More-than-Human World in Merleau-Ponty
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Merleau-Ponty advances a notion of witness in The Visible and the Invisible, which could be termed “gestate.” Gestate witness involves an acknowledgement through one's own body of how another living entity is born into its own body. This notion of witness is helpful in answering Anthony Weston's challenge that a sufficiently positive notion of environmentalism and so of environmental responsibility be developed, one that takes seriously how we come into contact with a more-than-human animate world. The work of biologist Tarn Ream with Trillium ovatum serves as a case study in the aesthetic, ethical and ontological significance of gestate witness.
75. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1/2
Glenn Deliège Toward a Richer Account of Restorative Practices
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In this paper, I investigate the possibility of a rich account of ecological restoration. Starting from the apparent one-sided focus on science and technology within the nature conservation community in Flanders, Belgium, I first present an intuitive case against a restorative practice solely based on science and technology. I then argue that what constitutes good restorative practice must be informed by the historical Arcadian tradition in which nature appreciation and subsequent conservation in the West have taken shape. However, the way in which nature is perceived through that tradition seems highly external and stylized, and thus the question can be raised whether restorative practices based on this tradition can do nature itself any justice. Following the lead of Dutch sociologist Kris van Koppen, I argue that it can when the tradition is made flexible through a “conversation process” with nature. Such a conversation process can beachieved by engaging people in a sensual and bodily way in the restoration process. The result is that the richer account of the restorative practice contributes to the constitution of meaningful places that resist easy manipulation through science and technology.
76. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1/2
Allen Carlson The Requirements for An Adequate Aesthetics of Nature
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This essay presents a methodological framework for assessing the adequacy of philosophical accounts of the aesthetic appreciation of nature. The framework involves five requirements, each of which is labeled after a philosopher who has defended it. They are called Ziff's Anything Viewed Doctrine, Budd's As Nature Constraint, Berleant's Unified Aesthetics Requirement, Hepburn's Serious Beauty Intuition, and Thompson's Objectivity Desideratum. The conclusion of the essay is that most contemporary treatments of the aesthetics of nature fail to comply with one or more of these requirements and that only Scientific Cognitivism satisfies the framework consisting of all five.
77. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1/2
Nicolas de Warren Off the Beaten Path: The Artworks of Andrew Goldsworthy
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This essay explores Heidegger’s “The Origin of the Work of Art” and Andrew Goldsworthy’s artworks. Both Heidegger and Goldsworthy can be seen as refashioning our ontological bearings towards nature through the work of art. After introducing a set of distinctions (e.g., world/earth) in the context of Heidegger’s conception of the artwork as the event of truth, I argue that Heidegger’s releasing of the work of art from metaphysical notions of “the thing” illuminates the ambiguous status of Goldsworthy’s artworks as things. Goldsworthy’s crafting of artworks from natural materials exemplifies Heidegger’s concept of technē as the bringing forth of a work in the midst of phūsis, or beings that arise of their own accord.
78. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1/2
Jennifer Foster Toronto’s Leslie Street Spit: Aesthetics and the Ecology of Marginal Land
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This paper explores the construction of habitat that potentially imperils its inhabitants by considering the case of Toronto’s Leslie Street Spit and specific threats to coyotes and gulls occupying this urban dump and wilderness refuge. The paper argues that while there are many positive dimensions of aesthetic engagement, aesthetics may also blind humans to ecological problems experienced by nonhumans, and suggests a need to enhance aesthetic awareness with accounts derived from natural history and sciences.
79. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1/2
John Andrew Fisher Performing Nature
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Natural environments differ from artworks in two ways: (a) they are surroundings filled with objects, processes, and the observer, (b) they are natural, not intentionally created to be appreciated. I show that this serious problem for accounts of aesthetic appreciation of nature has led many thinkers in environmental aesthetics (e.g., Carlson and Rolston) to claim that appreciators should be actively engaged with a natural environment. But how? One suggestion has been that appreciators play the role of creative performers in the arts. I explore this analogy, distinguishing three different kinds of performance. I argue that none is a good fit as a model of nature appreciation but that the analogy sheds considerable light on environmental art, especially the site-specific artworks of Andy Goldsworthy.
80. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1/2
Leslie Ryan Art + Ecology: Land Reclamation Works of Artists Robert Smithson, Robert Morris, and Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison
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Post-industrial landscapes present a challenge to traditional means of aesthetic evaluation. This article examines the work of four artists and their contributions to an aesthetic vocabulary that can support art practices that engage places and systems rather than objects. Art presumes a manipulation of materials and places, a significant point for landscape reclamation which also requires a re-making of a site. The land reclamation projects and proposals of Robert Smithson, Robert Morris, and Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison are guides to an aesthetics that expands to include ethical relationships and responsibility for the well-being of the environment and others.