The Great New Wilderness Debate is an expansive, wide-ranging collection that addresses the pivotal environmental issues of the modern era. This eclectic volume on the varied constructions of “wilderness” reveals the recent controversies that surround those conceptions, and the gulf between those who argue for wilderness "preservation" and those who argue for "wise use." J. Baird Callicott and Michael P. Nelson have selected thirty-nine essays that provide historical context, range broadly across the issues, and set forth the positions of the (...) debate. Beginning with such well-known authors as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and Aldo Leopold, the collection moves forward to the contemporary debate and presents seminal works by a number of the most distinguished scholars in environmental history and environmental philosophy. The Great New Wilderness Debate also includes essays by conservation biologists, cultural geographers, environmental activists, and contemporary writers on the environment. (shrink)
Over and over, philosophers have claimed that environmental holism in general, and Leopold's Land Ethic in particular, ought to be rejected on the basis that it has fascistic implications. I argue that the land Ethic is not tantamount to environmental fascism because Leopold's moral theory accounts for the moral standing of the individual as well as "the land," a holistic ethic better protects and defends the individual in the long-run, and the term "fascism" is misapplied in this case.
J. Baud Callicott and Michael P. Nelson offer an engaging study of environmental ethics with particular emphasis on an ethics supported by the Ojibwa cultural worldview. Connecting environmental theory with diverse stories from Ojibwa Indians, Callicott and Nelson reveal the meaning and power of cultural worldviews as they inform ethical principles and practices, as they show that competing worldviews demonstrate the many ways "of cognitively organizing human experience." The authors begin with a concise treatment of environmental ethics, cultural worldviews, and (...) the problem of cultural relativism, and integrate and evaluate rarely seen narratives of Ojibwa Indians on their relationship to the environment. American Indian Environmental Ethics is the seventh book in the series, Basic Ethics in Action, edited by Michael Boylan. This series is a major new undertaking by Prentice Hall covering several areas in applied ethics, including business ethics, environmental ethics, medical ethics, and social and political ethics. (shrink)
The “received” concept of wilderness as a place apart from and untouched by humans is five-times flawed: it is not universalizable, it is ethnocentric, it is ecologically naive, it separates humans from nature, and its referent is nonexistent. The received view of wilderness leads to dilemmas and unpalatable consequences, including the loss of designated wilderness areas by political and legislative authorities. What is needed is a more flexible notion of wilderness. Suggestions are made for a revised concept of wilderness.
Students who enroll in my environmental ethics courses often come with a background in ecology and natural resources. Moreover, they often point to this background when they express their frustration with, or outright rejection of, individualistic or atomistic moral theories that simply strive to include individual living things within the purview of a moral community. They ultimately evoke the concept of holism as the source of their frustration. Addressing this concern requires trying to make sense of both the concept of (...) holism generally and the supposed connection students sense between their training as young scientists and the attempt to ground a worthy environmental ethic. Many theories within the field of environmental ethics either evoke or rest upon the concept of holism. To date, however, the concept of holism has not been unpacked in any detail. To begin such an unpacking teachers need (1) to demonstrate how and when holism appears within the field of environmental ethics, (2) to explain the core idea underpinning holism and compare it to reductionism, and (3) to provide a general classification of how holism is employed in both a metaphysical and ethical sense within environmental ethics. (shrink)
Janna Thompson dismisses environmental ethics primarily because it does not meet her criteria for ethics: consistency, non-vacuity, and decidability. In place of a more expansive environmental ethic, she proposes to limit moral considerability to beings with a “point of view.” I contend, first, that a point-of-view centered ethic is unacceptable not only because it fails to meet the tests of her own and other criteria,but also because it is precisely the type of ethic that has contributed to our current environmental (...) dilemmas. Second, I argue that the holistic, ecocentric land ethic of Aldo Leopold, as developed by J. Baird Callicott, an environmental ethic that Thompson never considers, nicely meets Thompson’s criteria for acceptable ethics, and may indeed be the cure for our environmental woes. (shrink)
Though largely a theoretical endeavour, environmental ethics also has a practical agenda to help humans achieve environmental sustainability. Environmental ethicists have extensively debated the grounds, contents and implications of our moral obligations to nonhuman nature, offering up different notions of an 'environmental ethic' with the presumption that, if humans adopt such an environmental ethic, they will then engage in less environmentally damaging behaviours. We assess this presumption, drawing on psychological research to discuss whether or under what conditions an environmental ethic (...) might engender pro-environmental behaviour. We focus discussion on three lines of scholarship in the environmental ethics literature, on 1) intrinsic value, 2) care ethics, and 3) the land ethic. We conclude by commenting generally on both the limits and transformative potential of an environmental ethic in its larger sociocultural context. (shrink)
Chapter 1 makes a persuasive case for the “worthiness of worth thinking” within moral thought. Perhaps more importantly, it demonstrates that any systematic attempt to consider the meaning of a good and worthwhile life must seriously address the concept of worth: “we need ideals of worthiness to address the more threateningly and excitingly open questions about how to live”.