Why Environmental Philosophy? Advent of environmental crisis in

Why Environmental Philosophy? Advent of environmental crisis in

Why Environmental Philosophy? Advent of environmental crisis in the 1960s: oil spills fouling beaches and killing shore birds municipal and industrial offal polluting water urban smog making city breathing toxic [2nd wave of the environmental crisis in 1980s 6th mass extinction stratospheric ozone depletion global warming / climate change] Student demand for relevancy in university curriculum

Advent of Environmental Philosophy Response in the 1970s: 1st college course in environmental ethics (1971) 1st journal articles in environmental ethics (1973-1975) (Naess/Norway; Routley/Australia; Rolston/US) Dedicated journal Environmental Ethics (1979) Exponential growth in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s: Proliferation of college courses More journals, anthologies, textbooks, monographs Two learned societies (ISEE, IAEP) Two-volume A-Z encyclopedia (2009)

Seminal Text Lynn White Jr., The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis (Science 1967) modern science > modern technology > environmental crisis European originsJudeo-Christian worldview Genesis 1:26-28: man created in image of God given dominon over creation commanded to multiply and subdue Whites Seminal Subtextrepeated refrain

Axiom: What we do depends on what we think Corollary: To change what we do we must change the way we think ????? Environmental crisis = Natures way of speaking back: We thought Nature was constructed like a big machine We thought God was the cosmic engineer We thought we were junior engineers Our engineering produced many wonderful benfits but also many unanticipated consequences

Can Philosophy Save the World? What must be rethought? the nature of Nature human nature the relationship between man and nature Thinking about such big questions is the job of philosophers In the 1970s, the fate of the world seemed to lie in the hands of us philosophers These are the oldest philosophical questions raised anew Rethinking Like a Presocratic

20-century Anglo-American Analytic philosophy conceded these questions to science and assumed they had been answered definitively. Pursued narrow problems of word-object relations 20th-century Continental philosophy (phenomenology) turned away from nature into the structure of human consciousness Environmental philosophy = a neo-Presocratic philosophy The Tasks of Environmental Philosophy

Two primary moments of environmental philosophy (1) Critique legacy of Western ideas (2) Reconceive The nature of Nature Human nature The appropriate relationship between man and Nature The Critical Moment White had begun by critiquing Judeo-Christian legacy What about Greco-Roman legacy? Democritus/Epicurus/Lucretiusatomism/materialism Platos otherworldliness

Aristotles teleological anthropocentrism What about modern legacy? Bacons coercive philosophy of science Descartes dualism and dominionism Newtons mechanism Lockes concept of private property and property rights The Creative Moment White offered two suggestions for second moment: (1) Comb the Western legacy for recessive memes Pythagorean/Franciscan panpsychism Heraclitean/Whiteheadian process philosophy

Aristotelian orgnicism Spinozistic monism (2) Adopt nature-centered non-Western worldviews Zen Buddhismcontrol desires, not nature Hindu monism and holism Daoism American Indian all my relations ideas The Creative Moment Revisited Neither historical Western ideas nor borrowed exotic ideas likely to influence the contemporary Zeitgeist and become the prevailing worldview

My preferred approach: Explore the wonderful metaphysical and moral implications of the second scientific revolution Special and General Theories of Relativity Quantum Theory Evolutionary Biology Ecology NeoPresocratic Philosophy for the New Millennium Environmental Crisis of the 20th century a crisis of ideas Raises anew the oldest questions of philosophy

first posed by the Presocratics: The nature of Nature Human nature The proper relationship between man and Nature Domains of Environmental Philosophy Metaphysics and Ontology: Of what is Nature composed? Physics: matter or energy? particles or force fields? Ecology: organisms? boiotic communities? ecosystems? Epistemology: Is ecology an exact experimental science like physics or a descriptive, historical science like geology?

Is science the only way of knowing Nature? What about indigenous traditional ecological knowledge? Axiology: What is the ethical and aesthetic value of Nature? Is Nature intrinsically valuable? What is natural beauty? The Nature of Nature & Human Nature General Theory of Relativity and Quantum Field Theory Space-time not a vacuum but a universal continuum Matter and energy are interchangeable configurations of the universal space-time continuum

Moral analogy: Human beings and other organisms are as structured vortices in a flux of matterenergy in the dynamic space-time continuum The Nature of Nature Newtonian image of nature: machine composed of externally related, independent parts. Old ecological image of Nature: organic whole composed of interdependent parts performing functions New ecological image of Nature: a self-organized system forming an emergent functional whole. Ecosystems self-organize like economic systems; ecosystem

functions are by-products of primary survivalreproductive activities of organic components. The Nature of Nature Renewal of one of the oldest ecological metaphores: The Economy of Nature Ecology / Economy share the same etymology: Greek oikos home Other species occupy niches or professions in the economy of nature and perform roles. Moral principle: the human economy is a subset of the economy of nature and cannot be sustained unless we sustain the larger economy of nature.

Ecology and Economy Reciprocity The economy of nature (EN) informs the human economy (HE) EN: materials cyclethe waste of one process the the resource for another> HE: industrial ecology EN: evoloved ingenious solutions to practical problems HE: biomimicry But HN also informs EN: Ecological assemblages self-organize bottom up, as in a free-market economyeach organism pursuing its own self-interest incidentally provides good and services for others. EN like HN hierarchically

organizedsmaller economies embedded in larger. The Economy of Nature UN-sponsored Milennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005): develops ecology / economy-of-nature analogy 4 categories of ecosystem services Provisioning Services (food, timber, fiber, etc.) Regulating Services (pollination, flood control, etc.) Supporting Services (oxygen, soil building, climate) Cultural Services (sacred sites, ethnic identity) Services amenable to economic valuation techniques

all have market prices or can be shadow priced Human Nature Theory of Evolution Humans are animals, exquisitly adapted to the precise conditions on Planet Earth in the Quaternary Era, which we alter at our peril. We are co-evolved with our fellow-voyagers in the odyssey of evolution sharing the same Earth Our genes carry the legacy of ancestral forms of life going back 3.5 billion years: an awe-inspiring basis for a new natural spirituality

Human Natures Special Theory of Relativityno universal and absolute physical frame of reference for assessing motion Moral analogyno universal and absolute cultural frame of reference for assessing perception and knowledge Cultural relativism Validation of alternative epistemologies, knowledges Validation of diversity, pluralism, Validation of multiculturalism

Relationship Between Humans and Nature Environmental Ethics Respect our fellow-voyagers in the odyssey of evolution and fellow-members of the biotic community. Conceive the human economy as a subset of the economy of nature and adapt the former to the latter biomimicry, cradle-to-cradle industrial ecology Conceive of oneself as a node in a vast web of relationships both social and ecological which define ones identity and apart from which one is nothing Basic Categories of Environmental Ethics

Anthropocentric human > environment> human Non-anthropocentric Human > environment Theory Theory Utilitarian/Kantian (1) extend Utilitarian/Kantian (a) animals, (b) plants

individualistic (2) Hume, Darwin, Leopold moral sentiments holistic The Land Ethic Hume: Moral sentimentssympathy, loyalty, basis of ethics Darwinmoral sentiments evolved as a means of social bonding, vital to individual inclusive fitness Darwinas human communites grew in size and complexity moral sentiments extended more widely: family> tribe>ethnic group>nation state>global village

Leopoldadds ecological biotic community to this sequence and a land ethic to these other social ethics The Moral Value of Nature Humans have intrinsic value? Nature has instrumental value (ecosystem services). Does Nature have intrinsic value? Yes, if we choose to value it intrinsically. Ex: US ESA Confers dignity not a price. Intrinsic value not absolutecan be over-ridden by other interests. Shifts the burden of proof to competing interests

Concluding Statement Environmental crisis is a crisis of ideas. Incremental changes in business, industrial, and economic processes a bit of industrial ecology here, biomimicry therewill not get us through the crisis. A transformation needed in the way we think about the nature of Nature, human nature, and the relationship between humans and Nature, between the human economy and the economy of Nature. We are evolved beings adapted to specific conditions on Earth. We must value and

respect Nature. Our HE is a subset of the EN. We must adapt the HE to the EN to achieve harmony with Nature Postscript Our biggest environmental challenge is global climate change GCC eclipses all other environmental problems and exacerbates them. Is the enviornmental ethics and philosophy developed over the last 40 years up to the task. Do we need an Earth ethicplanetary in spatial scale and millennial in temporal scaleto complement the

locally and regionally scaled land ethic?

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