Ethics & the Environment, Volume 13, Number 1, Fall 2008
Wildness in the English Garden Tradition: A Reassessment of the Picturesque from Environmental Philosophy
The picturesque is usually interpreted as an admiration of ‘picture-like,’ and thus inauthentic, nature. In contrast, this paper sets out an interpretation that is more in accord with the contemporary love of wildness. This paper will briefly cover some garden history in order to contextualize the discussion and proceed by reassessing the picturesque through the eighteenth century works of Price and Watelet. It will then identify six themes in their work (variety, intricacy, engagement, time, chance, and transition) and show that, far from forcing a ‘picture-like’ stereotype on nature, the picturesque guided the way for a new appreciation of wildness—one that resonates with contemporary environmental philosophy.
Environmental Ethics and Size
Charles S. Cockell
Environmental policy has a size bias. Small organisms, such as microorganisms, command less attention from environmentalists than larger organisms, such as birds and large mammals. A simple thought experiment involving microscopic polar bears and giant microorganisms illustrates the importance of size in environmental ethics. Given the positive correlation between body size and brain size, there is probably a basis for a size bias in environmental ethics using ethical frameworks based on conations. This paper examines the relevance of the size of organisms in environmental ethics. It emphasizes the need to understand the theoretical reasons for the importance of size, and not to base a size bias merely on a subjective anthropocentric prejudice favouring large organisms.
Separated at Birth, Signs of Rapprochement: Environmental Ethics and Space Exploration
Erin Moore Daly, Robert Frodeman
Although environmental philosophy and the human exploration of space share common beginnings, scholars from either field have not given adequate attention to the possible connections between them. In this essay, we seek to spur the rapprochement and cross-fertilization of philosophy and space policy by highlighting the philosophic dimensions of space exploration, pulling together issues and authors that have had insufficient contact with one another. We do so by offering an account of three topics: planetary exploration, planetary protection and the search for extraterrestrial life, and terraforming. The resulting synthesis seeks to change our thinking about earthbound environmental ethics as it considers the philosophical dimensions of space exploration, and introduces the possible benefits of a humanities-oriented approach to space policy.
Literary Activism, Social Justice, and the Future of Bioregionalism
Joshua A. Dolezal
Whereas the political battle between literary activists and industry over the tenets of bioregionalism in the American West has ignored the question of social justice, effectively silencing a sizeable population—the working poor—by creating an economic situation in which labor must choose between two oppressors, mutual aid as championed by Petr Kropotkin offers more potential for reform than the model of political competition has yielded thus far. If literary activists were to extend Jared Diamond’s call to social action in Collapse by becoming advocates of laborers injured by industrial catastrophes, and if eco-activists were to imagine economic alternatives to the policies they oppose, then bioregionalism could hope to gain more ground as a grassroots movement.
Review of Patrick Curry’s, Ecological Ethics: An Introduction (Malden, Massachusetts: Polity Press, 2007)
Franciscan Biocentrism and the Franciscan Tradition
Franciscan biocentrism is the view that Francis of Assisi is a biocentrist who holds that all living things have intrinsic value. Recently, biocentric theorists Sterba and Taylor have modified biocentrism to accommodate holistic entities. I consider thinkers from the broader Franciscan intellectual tradition (Bonaventure and Scotus) to see whether Franciscan biocentrism can be similarly modified. I discuss notions from these medieval philosophers such as the Cosmic Christ and the concept of haecceitas. I also explore whether Franciscan biocentrism can provide a satisfactory response to the problem of evil, since Franciscan biocentrism faces an issue that secular biocentrism does not: making sense of extinction.
Martha Nussbaum on Animal Rights
There is quite a long-standing tradition according to which the morally proper treatment of animals does not rely on what we owe them, but on our benevolence. Nussbaum wishes to go beyond this tradition, because in her view we are dealing with issues of justice. Her capabilities approach secures basic entitlements for animals, on the basis of their fundamental capacities. At the same time Nussbaum wishes to retain the possibility of certain human uses of animals, and to see them as morally justifiable. This article shows that these things do not go together with her capabilities approach to animal rights. More specifically, they clash with the attitude towards animals that Nussbaum’s approach intends to foster in human beings.
Dimensions of Naturalness
This paper presents a way of classifying different forms of naturalness and unnaturalness. Three main forms of (un)naturalness are found as the following: history- based (un)naturalness, property-based (un)naturalness and relation-based (un)naturalness. Numerous subforms (and some subforms of the subforms) of each are presented. The subforms differ with respect to the entities that are found (un)natural, with respect to their all-inclusiveness, and whether (un)naturalness is seen as all-or-nothing affair, or a continuous gradient. This kind of conceptual analysis is needed, first, because discussion concerning (un)naturalness is common in current bioethics and environmental ethics, and second, because the terms natural and unnatural are highly ambiguous. Thus, the lack of an exact definition of the type of (un)naturalness may lead into equivocation, other forms of bad argumentation, or at least vagueness.