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  Partner: UNT Libraries
 Decade: 2010-2019
 Degree Discipline: Philosophy
 Collection: UNT Theses and Dissertations
The Beauty of Nature As a Foundation for Environmental Ethics: China and the West
My dissertation aims at constructing an environmental ethics theory based on environmental aesthetics in order to advocate and promote environmentally sustainable practices, policies, and lifestyles. I attempt to construct an integrated environmental aesthetics in order to inspire people’s feelings of love towards nature and motivate them to protect it.  In order to achieve this goal, I first examine the philosophical understanding and aesthetic appreciation of nature from philosophical traditions of China, which have an impact on the general public’s attitude towards nature. in chapter one of my dissertation, I point out that nature is viewed as an organic system which is always in a self-generating process of production and reproduction of life. the metaphysical foundation for this perspective of nature is ch’i. Therefore the aesthetic appreciation of nature in China is also the aesthetic appreciation of ch’i. with regard to the concept of ch’i, I focus on the following three questions: (1) what are the objective and aesthetic features of ch’i? (2) How do the Chinese appreciate aesthetic features of ch’i? (3) Why the objective features of ch’i are regarded as the objects of aesthetic appreciation? I argue that the Chinese appreciate the aesthetic features of ch’i by using intellectual intuition and that empathy is the reason why the objective features of ch’i are considered to be aesthetic features. in Chapter 2, I explain in detail the two aesthetic categories for aesthetic appreciation of nature in two major philosophical schools in China: emptiness and creativity. in Chapter 3, I examine the philosophical foundations for aesthetic appreciation of nature in the West. I first investigate the influence of traditional Western philosophy on the perceptions of nature. I argue that traditional Western philosophical thinking doesn’t support aesthetic appreciation of nature. I point out that aesthetic appreciation of nature started from eighteenth century in the West. I examine Kant’s aesthetic categories of beauty and sublime in his appreciation of nature. in contemporary world, I focus on the Allen Carlson’s positive aesthetics and Arnold Berleant’s engagement model to appreciate the beauty of environment. in Chapter 4, I evaluate the theories of aesthetic appreciation of nature in the West and China and attempt to construct an integrated theory of aesthetic appreciation of nature. the key point of this theory is to establish a caring relationship with nature based on aesthetic appreciation of nature and active participation in the beauty of it. This relationship will motivate people to protect nature and also contribute to human happiness. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc115080/
Biodiversity Loss, the Motivation Problem, and the Future of Conservation Education in the United States
The purpose of this dissertation is to make sense of two sets of reactions. On the one hand, Americans can barely lift a finger to help threatened and endangered species while on the other, they routinely come to the aid of human victims of disaster. I argue that in contrast to cases of human tragedy, for the biodiversity crisis conservationists are faced not only with the familiar yet arduous task of motivating the American public to care for living other-than-humans, but they are also saddled with having to overcome the motivation problem of future ethics. The motivation problem consists in eliminating or bridging a motivational gap that lies between knowledge of the effects of our actions on future generations and action taken based upon such knowledge. The gap exists because motives that typically move people to action are either ineffective or unavailable. What is more, the gap influences not only our ability to care for future humans, but it affects our ability to care for future other-than-humans as well. Biodiversity loss is in fact a subset of the problem of future generations, an identification hitherto little appreciated. I argue that conservationists can overcome the motivational gap not by appealing directly to the value of species or biodiversity, both of which are temporally distant, abstract and general moral patients, but indirectly, by focusing on the concrete and particular lives of extant and near future moral patients. By applying techniques that have been developed to overcome the motivation problem as it pertains to distant future human generations, conservationists have additional resources to draw upon in their efforts to motivate American citizens to preserve biodiversity. This dissertation’s contribution to the fields of environmental philosophy and conservation biology is both theoretical and practical. It is theoretically significant to elucidate the nature of moral failure for biodiversity conservation. In terms of broader impacts, identifying the basis of moral failure for biodiversity conservation allows me to assess educational campaigns and environmental policy, and to suggest solutions for bridging the motivational gap. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103321/
The Character of Environmental Citizenship: Virtue Education for Raising Morally Responsible Individuals
Surely, moral education is not merely intended to result in theoretical knowledge, but instead attempts to change people's behavior. However, when examining and evaluating current trends in moral education, it appears that hitherto moral education has fallen short of its goal to make people better. In this paper, I try to determine what has caused this perceived failure of moral education and conclude that approaches that focus on teaching moral reasoning skills rather than on teaching actual moral content, i.e., values and virtues, are generally ineffective for moral improvement. However, a more traditional form of moral education, namely character education, appears to be a viable alternative to the moral reasoning methods. Since character education can be regarded as the practical application of virtue ethics, I first describe and evaluate virtue ethics and defend it against potential criticisms. I then examine what methods are effective for teaching virtues, and how such methods can potentially be incorporated into the curriculum. Since virtues cannot be taught through theoretical instruction, the acquisition of good habits constitutes the necessary foundation for the establishment of good moral character. Some methods that have been suggested for laying the foundation for virtue are the use of stories, role play, as well as the inclusion of physical and outdoor activities, etc. Furthermore, habituation constitutes the basis for the acquisition of good habits, and as such it requires the application of rewards and punishment by a caring tutor, who at the same time can serve as a role model for virtuous behavior. Finally, I extrapolate if and how character education can be employed to make people more environmentally conscious citizens. I conclude that environmental virtue or character education is the most effective method of environmental education, since it affects how an individual understands, views, and subsequently interacts with the natural environment. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc271857/
The Contribution of Mira Behn and Sarala Behn to Social and Environmental Transformation in the Indian State of Uttarakhand
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The influence of Mohandas K. Gandhi on social and environmental movements in post-colonial India has been widely acknowledged. Yet, the contributions of two European associates of Gandhi, Madeleine Slade and Catherine Mary Heilemann, better known in India as Mira Behn and Sarala Behn, have not received the due attention of the academic community. This dissertation is an examination of the philosophy and social activism of Mira Behn and Sarala Behn and their roles in the evolution of Gandhian philosophy of socioeconomic reconstruction and environmental conservation in the present Indian state of Uttarakhand. Instead of just being acolytes of Gandhi, I argue that these women developed ideas and practices that drew upon from an extensive intellectual terrain that cannot be limited to Gandhi’s work. I delineate the directions in which Gandhian thought and experiments in rural development work evolved through the lives, activism, and written contributions of these two women. Particularly, I examine their influence on social and environmental movements, such as the Chipko and the Anti-Tehri Dam movements, and their roles in promoting grassroots social development and environmental sustainability in the mountain communities of Uttarakhand. Mira Behn and Sarala Behn’s integrative philosophical worldviews present epistemological, sociopolitical, ethical, and metaphysical principles and practices that have local and global significance for understanding interfaith dialog, social justice, and environmental sustainability and thus constitute a useful contribution to the theory and practice of human emancipation in our times. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc499983/
Ecological Forms of Life: Wittgenstein and Ecolinguistics
The present philosophical literature on philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein tends to either stagnate by focusing upon issues particular to Wittgenstein's philosophy or expand the boundaries of Wittgenstein's thought to shed light onto other areas of study. One area that has largely been ignored is the realm of environmental philosophy. I prepare the way for a solution to this by first arguing that Wittgenstein's later philosophy of language shows 'proto-ecolinguistic' concerns, sharing much in common with the ecolinguistic thought of both Peter Mühlhäusler and Luisa Maffi. This reading, as well as the work of Mühlhäusler and Maffi, is a starting point for an opposition to a common trend in much of contemporary linguistics of adhering to a linguistic paradigm of universalizing linguistic atomism that gives an impoverished account of language. This impoverished account is argued to have potential environmental and ecological consequences which the universalizing atomistic paradigm is ill-equipped to address. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc271891/
Environmental Ethics from the Periphery: José Lutzenberger and the Philosophical Analysis of an Unecological Economics
This dissertation provides a philosophical analysis about the influence colonialism had over capitalism's current configuration and how their intricate interplay impacts both the social and the ecological spheres, in both central and peripheral countries. Such analysis draws from the work of José Lutzenberger, a Brazilian environmentalist. The current capitalist economic system tends to disregard the environment, since it would be greatly affected by negative externalities. A negative externality is an economic activity that imposes a negative effect on an unrelated third party. Many negative externalities are related to the environmental consequences of production and consumption. In addition, this dissertation explores the fact that an ecological crisis is also a social crisis. A genealogical and existential thread going from Brazil's early days as one of Portugal's colonies to the present is drawn, showing how colonialism helped to create the foundations and the conditions for the current exploitative capitalist system, in Brazil and elsewhere. To change this situation, the environment should not be entrusted to private interests but to an institution responsible for the good of society as a whole. Genuinely green economies are more prone to appear on the periphery, but only if global economic justice is achieved first. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc862837/
Environmental Imagination: the Constitution and Projection of a Sustainable Ethos
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This dissertation provides a theoretical analysis and examination of the role of imagination in the formation of an environmental ethos. The majority of ethical theories in environmental thought largely neglect the role that imagination plays in both the relationships that humans form with their environment, and the subsequent role that imagination plays in constituting the way that those relationships are understood ethically. To explore the role of imagination in constituting and subsequently projecting such an ethical way of being, this dissertation selectively analyzes the history of imagination in philosophy, cognitive science, and environmental thought. In addition, this dissertation also explores the role that images play in forming collective responses to environmental disasters, and the further role that imagination plays in overcoming the moral motivation gap. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc700043/
The Environmental is Political: Exploring the Geography of Environmental Justice
The dissertation is a philosophical approach to politicizing place and space, or environments broadly construed, that is motivated by three questions. How can geography be employed to analyze the spatialities of environmental justice? How do spatial concepts inform understandings of environmentalism? And, how can geography help overcome social/political philosophy's redistribution-recognition debate in a way that accounts for the multiscalar dimensions of environmental justice? Accordingly, the dissertation's objective is threefold. First, I develop a critical geography framework that explores the spatialities of environmental injustices as they pertain to economic marginalization across spaces of inequitable distribution, cultural subordination in places of misrecognition, and political exclusion from public places of deliberation and policy. Place and space are relationally constituted by intricate networks of social relations, cultural practices, socioecological flows, and political-economic processes, and I contend that urban and natural environments are best represented as "places-in-space." Second, I argue that spatial frameworks and environmental discourses interlock because conceptualizations of place and space affect how environments are perceived, serve as framing devices to identify environmental issues, and entail different solutions to problems. In the midst of demonstrating how the racialization of place upholds inequitable distributions of pollution burdens, I introduce notions of "social location" and "white privilege" to account for the conflicting agendas of the mainstream environmental movement and the environmental justice movement, and consequent accusations of discriminatory environmentalism. Third, I outline a bivalent environmental justice theory that deals with the spatialities of environmental injustices. The theory synergizes distributive justice and the politics of social equality with recognition justice and the politics of identity and difference, therefore connecting cultural issues to a broader materialist analysis concerned with economic issues that extend across space. In doing so, I provide a justice framework that assesses critically the particularities of place and concurrently identifies commonalities to diverse social struggles, thus spatializing the geography of place-based political praxis. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30497/
Environmental Philosophy and the Ethics of Terraforming Mars: Adding the Voices of Environmental Justice and Ecofeminism to the Ongoing Debate
Questions concerning the ethics of terraforming Mars have received some attention from both philosophers and scientists during recent decades. A variety of theoretical approaches have been supplied by a number of authors, however research pursuant to this thesis has indicated at least two major blindspots in the published literature on the topic. First, a broad category of human considerations involving risks, dangers, and social, political, and economic inequalities that would likely be associated with efforts to terraform Mars have been woefully overlooked in the published literature to date. I attempt to rectify that oversight by employing the interpretive lens of environmental justice to address questions of environmental colonialism, equality in terms of political participation and inclusion in decision making structures, risks associated with technological progressivism, and responses to anthropogenic climate change. Only by including the historically marginalized and politically disenfranchised "voices," of both humans and nonhumans, can any future plan to terraform Mars be deemed ethical, moral or just according to the framework provided by environmental justice. Furthermore, broader political inclusion of this sort conforms to what ecofeminist author Val Plumwood calls the "intentional recognition stance" and provides an avenue through which globally societies can include nonanthropocentric considerations in decision making frameworks both for questions of terraforming Mars and also for a more local, contemporary set of environmental issues. The second blindspot I seek to correct concerns motivations for attempting terraforming on Mars previously inadequately philosophically elaborated in the published discourse. Specifically, the nonanthropocentric considerations postulated in the second chapter by various authors writing about terraforming, and elaborated in third with regard to environmental justice, reach their culmination in an ecofeminist ethic of care, sustainability, reproduction, and healthy growth which I uniquely elaborate based on a metaphorical similarity to the relationship between a gardener and a garden. Although at first glance, this metaphor may appear overly domineering, or uncritically paternalistic, I argue a deep understanding of its implications will be eminently beneficial for discussions of what is moral, good, right, and just to do regarding not only whether or not to terraform Mars, but for contemporary environmental concerns as well. Ultimately, extreme caution and a robust precautionary principle are the moral prescriptions arrived at in this thesis for the near term future. Until a sustainable civilization and just society can be established and effectively maintained, efforts to terraform and colonize another planet are practically certain to produce as much that is undesirable as that which might be good. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc283810/
Expertise Revisited: Reflecting on the Intersection of Science and Democracy in the Case of Fracking
This dissertation aims to explain the conditions under which expertise can undermine democratic decision making. I argue that the root of the conflict between expertise and democracy lies in what I call insufficiently “representative” expertise – that is forms of scientific research that are not relevant to the policy questions at hand and that fail to make visible their hidden values dimensions. I claim that the scholarly literature on the problem of expertise fails to recognize and address the issue correctly, because it does not open the black box of scientific methodologies. I maintain that only by making sense of the methodological choices of experts in the context of policy making can we determine the relevance of research and reveal the hidden socio-political values and consequences. Using the case of natural gas fracking, I demonstrate how expert contributions – even though epistemically sound – can muddle democratic policy processes. I present four case studies from controversies about fracking to show how to contextualize scientific methodologies in the pertinent political process. I argue that the common problem across all case studies is the failure of expertise to sufficiently represent stakeholders’ problems and concerns. In this context, “representation” has three criteria: (1) the operational research questions on which the qualified experts work are relevant to stakeholders’ problems and concerns; (2) the non-epistemic values and consequences of epistemic choices of experts are compatible with social and political values and priorities; and (3) hidden values attached to facts are fully transparent and openly debated. In the conclusion, I propose a normative version of this representation theory that can be used to evaluate the appropriateness of expertise for democratic policy making. Instead of the value-free science ideal, I propose a new ideal to legitimately allow non-epistemic values in scientific reasoning without compromising the soundness of research. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc822786/
The Green Horizon: An (Environmental) Hermeneutics of Identification with Nature through Literature
This thesis is an examination of transformative effects of literature on environmental identity. The work begins by examining and expanding the Deep Ecology concept of identification-with-nature. The potential problems with identification through direct encounters are used to argue for the relevance of the possibility of identification-through-literature. Identification-through-literature is then argued for using the hermeneutic and narrative theories of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur, as well as various examples of nature writing and fiction. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30435/
Indigenous Knowledge on the Marshall Islands: a Case for Recognition Justice
Recent decades have marked growing academic and scientific attention to the role of indigenous knowledge in climate change adaptation, mitigation, and detection strategies. However, how indigenous knowledge is incorporated is a point of contention between self-identifying indigenous groups and existing institutions which combat climate change. In this thesis, I argue that the full inclusion of indigenous knowledge is deterred by certain aspects of modernity. In order to overcome the problems of modernity, I argue that a recognition theory of justice is needed as it regards to indigenous knowledge. Recognition justice calls for indigenous groups to retain meaningful control over how and when their indigenous knowledge is shared. To supplement this, I use the Marshall Islands as a case study. The Marshall Islands afford a nice particular case because of their longstanding colonial relationship with the United States and the impending danger they face of rising sea levels. Despite this danger, the Republic of the Marshall Islands calls for increased recognition as leaders in addressing climate change. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc822739/
Mapping Overlapping Constellations: Nature and Technology in “Research in Philosophy and Technology”/“techné” and “Environmental Ethics"
The overlap between the separate fields of philosophy of technology and environmental philosophy can be investigated using the two longest running flagship journals for each field, Environmental Ethics (EE) and Research in Philosophy and Technology, which is now published as Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology (RPT/Techné). By looking at the theoretical and conceptual ideas on nature and the environment expressed in RPT/Techné, at those on technology and artifacts expressed in EE, and at the individuals who contributed them using the principles of social epistemology as developed by Steve Fuller, a stereoscopic view incorporating the insights from both specializations can be constructed. The ideas developed in the articles can be charted like stars within constellations, loosely connected in groupings that are neither clear nor evident. Five constellations can be discerned from the relevant articles in each journal, and while there is some overlap, there is considerable difference. The stereoscopic view is developed in three ways: first, by reviewing the contributions of authors who have published in both journals; second, by utilizing resources in both specializations to add subtlety and depth to the ideas expressed, starting in this case from Jacques Ellul’s “Nature, Technique and Artificiality”; and third, by using W. D. Ross’s ethical theory, which fuses prima facie duties with virtues, to integrate traditional ethical concerns with those raised by philosophers focused on technology and those concerned with the environment. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc801893/
On City Identity and Its Moral Dimensions
The majority of people on Earth now live in cities, and estimates hold that 60 percent of the world’s cities have yet to be built. Now is the time for philosophers to develop a philosophy of the city to address the forthcoming issues that urbanization will bring. In this dissertation, I respond to this need for a philosophy of the city by developing a theory of city identity, developing some of the theory’s normative implications, illustrating the theory with a case study, and outlining the nature and future of philosophy of the city more generally. Indeed, this dissertation is only a part of my larger project of founding and institutionalizing this new field of both academic and socially-engaged philosophical activity. Throughout the history of the discipline, other areas such a personal identity have received numerous considerations, along with the concept of identity as an abstraction. For example, there is a bounty of research addressing problems pertaining to how objects and people retain an identity over time and claims about identity in general. While one could argue that cities are not any different than any other object, such an account fails to consider that a city’s dynamic nature makes it dissimilar to other things. To illustrate this point, I develop a position called dynamic composition as identity theory that provides a framework for understanding the identity of a city, exhibiting that views within analytic metaphysics are too narrow to apply to all cases. After establishing a concept of city identity, I use an applied mereology to develop a model of city identity that shows how the parts of a city fit together to form a complete city. This model introduces the normative dimension of my project by providing a way to identify how incongruence between a city’s parts can cause problems for residents’ wellbeing. To understand the moral dimensions of infrastructure, I argue that moral theory alone is ill prepared to adequately demonstrate its full range of effects. Yet, instead of developing another moral theory, we can supplement existing moral theories with the concepts of sustainability and resilience thinking to account for the elements that traditional moral systems neglect. I support this view with a detailed account of transportation infrastructure. Namely, I show that current frameworks for assessing transportation infrastructure are inadequate, and employ the method of complex moral assessment developed earlier to make such assessments. Lastly, I show how the research in this dissertation counts as intra-disciplinary research, a new kind of method for philosophical research. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc822798/
Redacted Dominionism: An Evangelical, Environmentally Sympathetic Reading of the Early Genesis Narrative
Critiques of the environmental ramifications of the early Genesis narrative by environmental thinkers such as Aldo Leopold, Ian McHarg, and Lynn White underscore a longstanding tension between the environmental movement and Western Christianity. The evangelical community (EC) especially, has been at odds with the environmental movement, as the EC grounds its theology regarding human relations to nature on the Genesis narrative—and especially the Genesis 1:26-28 dominion mandate— interpreted with a literal hermeneutic. The EC generally concludes in favor of either a dominionist interpretation, that mankind has dominion over nature, or a stewardship interpretation, that mankind’s dominion is more akin to tending or stewarding than to domination. Both interpretations trend toward the anthropocentrism that Leopold, McHarg, and White criticize. J. Baird Callicott postulates a third, less anthropocentric view: the citizenship interpretation, that humanity is co-citizen with nonhuman beings, rather than a superior. Callicott’s view, while commendable on key points, is incompatible with EC methodology because it is grounded only on Genesis 2 and subsequent passages, rejecting the legitimacy of Genesis 1:26-28 altogether. A fourth interpretation is proposed here, redacted dominionism, derived using EC methodology, and claiming that human relations to nature are based on theocentric themes. Redacted dominionism understands humanity as initially given dominion over nature by virtue of the imago Dei, but human disobedience to God, tarnished that image, and human qualification for dominion was lost. Post-fall, the dominion mandate is never repeated, and seems even to be replaced. In consideration of early Genesis and related passages, understood within EC methodology, redacted dominionism argues for theocentrism, thus grounding a biblical environmental ethic that escapes the indictments of Leopold, McHarg, and White. Such an ethic could be useful within the EC to motivate greater environmental consideration. It could likewise be beneficial to those within and without the EC, as a catalyst for dialogue between the environmental movement and the EC, and as a mechanism whereby the EC may be held accountable for attitudes and actions impacting nature. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc84193/
A Restorative Environmental Justice for the Prison Industrial Complex: a Transformative Feminist Theory of Justice
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This dissertation provides a feminist restorative model of environmental justice that addresses the injustices found within UNICOR’s e-waste recycling operations. A feminist restorative environmental justice challenges the presupposition that grassroots efforts, law and policy, medical and scientific research, and theoretical pursuits (alone or in conjunction) are sufficient to address the emotional and relational harm of environmental injustices. To eliminate environmental harms, this model uses collaborative dialogue for interested parties to prevent environmental harm. To encourage participation, a feminist restorative model accepts many forms of knowledge and truth as ‘legitimate’ and offers an opportunity for women to share how their personal experiences of love, violence, and caring differ from men and other women and connect to larger social practices. This method of environmental justice offers opportunities for repair, reparation and reintegration that can transform perspectives on criminality, dangerous practices and structures in the PIC, and all persons who share in a restorative encounter. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc801925/
Ye Si Ye Jong: a Martial Arts Approach to Business Ethics
The purpose of this dissertation is to offer a new approach to business ethics grounded in the martial arts. This dissertation argues that traditional rules and regulations approaches to business ethics, though important, are inadequate. Such “top down” approaches must be complimented with corporate reform that comes “from the inside out.” The dissertation consults the martial arts to develop a core, multifaceted virtue – Ye Si Ye Jong – that ought to form the foundation for creating a corporate culture (or an ethos for business) that embraces a new approach to decision-making at every level of the organization – from the boards of directors, to individual employees. This dissertation frames the problem as a matter of corporate culture or ethos. This framing is a distinctive approach to corporate or business ethics in two respects: its emphasis on virtue and its integration of core concepts from the martial arts. This dissertation utilizes an uncommon example of business decision-making as its source for a case-study – a prominent university. While many may not think of colleges or universities as exemplars of common business activities, they do, in fact, provide a source of many ethical business dilemmas, both common and unique. Universities have boards of directors, consumers (students and others), and regularly evaluate many financial and cost accounting situations that are not unusual to most businesses. The Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State University provides an opportunity that is ripe for consideration of various business ethics decision-making and, as such, is analyzed later in this paper. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc407848/
Situating Cost-Benefit Analysis for Environmental Justice
Cost-benefit analysis plays a significant role in the process of siting hazardous waste facilities throughout the United States. Controversy regarding definitively disparate, albeit unintentional, racist practices in reaching these siting decisions abounds, yet cost-benefit analysis stands incapable of commenting on normative topics. This thesis traces the developments of both cost-benefit analysis and its normative cousin utilitarianism by focusing on the impacts they have had on the contemporary environmental justice discourse and highlighting valid claims, misunderstandings, and sedimented ideas surrounding the popularity of cost-benefit analysis. This analysis ultimately leads to an alternative means of realizing environmental justice that both acknowledges the need for greater democratic interactions and attempts to work with, rather than against, the prevailing paradigm of reaching siting decisions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc33215/
Strange Matter, Strange Objects: An Ontological Reorientation of the Philosophical Concept of Wonder
Wonder has had a rich and diverse history in the western philosophical tradition. Both Plato and Aristotle claim that philosophy begins in wonder, while Descartes marks it as the first of the passions and Heidegger uses it as a signpost for a new trajectory of philosophy away from idealism and nihilism. Despite such a rich history, wonder is almost always thought to be exhausted by the acquisition of knowledge. That is, wonder is thought of almost exclusively in epistemological terms and is discarded as soon as knowledge has been achieved. In this dissertation, I argue for an ontological reorientation of wonder that values wonder beyond its epistemic uses. To do this, I read the phenomenological and ontological work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty through recent developments in object-oriented ontology and new materialism. Much of Merleau-Ponty's work is directed toward dissolving the distinction between subject and object. His insights regarding the mutual constitution of the world lead to the possibility of an operative wonder that occurs between subject and object. Both object-oriented ontology and new materialism radicalize these insights by articulating them in terms of a vibrant or quasi-agential material world. Objects and assemblages of objects are capable of performing the becoming of the world that includes human activity, but is not reduced to it. As such, the world is capable of both self-organization and practice. Ultimately I use the philosophy-physics of Karen Barad to argue that operative wonder acts like a kind of superposition of relations between objects, and thereby accounts for a concept of wonder that is both ontologically significant and acutely generative. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc849711/
Sustainable Environmental Identities for Environmental Sustainability: Remaking Environmental Identities with the Help of Indigenous Knowledge
Early literature in the field of environmental ethics suggests that environmental problems are not technological problems requiring technological solutions, but rather are problems deeply rooted in Western value systems calling for a reorientation of our values. This dissertation examines what resources are available to us in reorienting our values if this starting point is correct. Three positions can be observed in the environmental ethics literature on this issue: 1. We can go back and reinterpret our Western canonical texts and figures to determine if they can be useful in providing fresh insight on today's environmental challenges; 2. We abandon the traditional approaches, since these are what led to the crisis in the first place, and we seek to establish entirely new approaches and new environmental identities to face the environmental challenges of the 21st century; 3. We look outside of the Western tradition for guidance from other cultures to see how they inhabit and interact with the natural world. This dissertation presents and evaluates these three options and ultimately argues for an approach similar to the third option, suggesting that dialogue with indigenous cultures and traditions can help us to reorient our values and assist in developing more sustainable environmental identities. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc177240/
Tracing the Path of Sustainable Development through Major International Conferences: A Brief History and Overview of Sustainable Development 1964-2002
Starting with the idea that unsustainable practices contribute to issues of social justice and poverty as much as to ecological issues. Chapter 1 traces the origins of the terms sustainable and development individually to see how it is that they came together. Chapter 2 traces the major international conferences and documents and their use of the terms sustainable development. Chapter 3 takes a phenomenology approach to get a bit deeper into sustainable development. I examine the most commonly cited definition of sustainable development as well as a broader definition of sustainable development as a process of change. Chapter 4 examines the field of environmental ethics and argues that constant debates over value distract policy makers from the central question of what morally motivates people to support environmental ethics views. Chapter 5 examines the institution and regime building process, and the conclusion offers three questions to measure our progress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28413/
Urban Sustainability and the Extinction of Experience: Acknowledging Drivers of Biocultural Loss for Socio-ecological Well-being
In this dissertation I address urban sustainability with a focus on loss of cultural heritage and ecological knowledge by expanding the concept “extinction of experience” (EoE). Conceptualized by conservationist Robert Michael Pyle, EoE is the loss of nature experiences leading to apathy towards biodiversity and degradation of the common habitat. I expand upon Pyle’s formulation of the concept by considering the EoE cycle as an indirect driver that amplifies biodiversity losses. Additionally, I introduce the analysis of interrelated losses of biological and cultural diversity in relation to EoE. With a biocultural approach I discuss that EoE is tied to the infrastructural inertia within the global urban economy. I propose that addressing the EoE cycle is critical in that as a complex and multi-faceted process, it cements threats to biological and cultural diversity as permanent fixtures within society by obscuring their significance in light of economic development. This cycle remains a hidden problematic in that it perpetuates the environmental crisis while making such losses invisible within day-to-day lifestyle habits, constructing an emerging urban culture within the global economy that is ignorant of ecological processes and sustainability requirements. I frame the implications of EoE with an analysis of the newly proposed revisions of the UN Sustainable Development Goals voted on in September 2015 to prioritize local ecological knowledge and biocultural heritage. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc822745/
The Ways of Reflection: Heidegger, Science, Reflection, and Critical Interdisciplinarity
This thesis argues that there is a philosophical attempt directed at combating the fragmentation of the sciences that starts with Heidegger and continues today through Trish Glazebrook's interpretations of the former's concept of "reflection," and Carl Mitcham and Robert Frodeman's concept of "critical interdisciplinarity" (CID). This is important as the sciences are both more implicated in our lives and more fragmented than ever. While scientific knowledge is pursued for its own sake, the pertinent facts, meaning, and application of the science is ignored. By linking Heidegger's views on the fragmentation of the sciences to Glazebrook's interpretations of reflection and Mitcham and Frodeman's CID, I show that CID is a concrete realization of Heidegger's reflection. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc271906/
Wilderness and Everyday Life.
I challenge the dualistic view of wilderness that has influenced wilderness philosophy, politics and experience in recent years. In its place, I offer an alternative vision that recognizes wilderness areas and working landscapes as complementary elements of a larger, inhabited landscape characterized by a heterogeneous mixture of human-land relational patterns representing various points along an urban-wilderness continuum. In chapters 2 through 4, I explore the philosophical, political and experiential implications of this wilderness-in-context vision. Experienced and understood as part of the landscape we call home, wilderness may engender, renew, and sustain an engaged and integrated wilderness practice involving regular contact with wilderness places, committed activism on behalf of wild lands and their inhabitants, and grounded reflection on the meaning and value of wilderness in our everyday lives. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc84205/