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 Degree Discipline: Philosophy
 Collection: UNT Theses and Dissertations
Ethics Naturally: An Environmental Ethic Based on Naturalness

Ethics Naturally: An Environmental Ethic Based on Naturalness

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Date: May 2004
Creator: Leard, Jason
Description: In this thesis I attempt to base an environmental ethic on a quality called naturalness. I examine it in terms of quantification, namely, as to whether it can quantified? I then apply the concept to specific areas such as restoration and conservation to create an environmental ethic and to show how such an ethic would be beneficial in general, and especially to policy issues concerning the environment. The thesis consists of three chapters: (1) the definition of nature and natural by way of a historical approach; (2) the place of humans in this scheme; and (3) the place of value and the discussion concerning quantification.
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Embedded Within Landscapes: Agrarian Philosophy and Sustainable Agriculture

Embedded Within Landscapes: Agrarian Philosophy and Sustainable Agriculture

Date: August 2005
Creator: Leonard, Evan
Description: Small-scale, conservation-based agrarianism provides a model for sustainable human habitation within heterogeneous landscapes. Thoreau's Transcendentalism and the historical roots of American Agrarianism are explored as influences for wilderness preservation and the New Agrarian movement. Idealizing a distant wilderness too often means overlooking the ecological and socio-economic environment where people live. Middle landscapes between nature and culture, or between wilderness and cities, can either increase or reduce ecological and social functioning within the landscape matrix. Managing middle landscapes by agrarian principles helps move both nature and culture towards ecological, economic, and social sustainability. This thesis ends with a discussion of agrarian themes, such as supporting decentralized local economies and increasing community connectivity, applied in urban, rural, and wilderness landscapes.
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Environmental Virtue Education: Ancient Wisdom Applied

Environmental Virtue Education: Ancient Wisdom Applied

Date: August 2005
Creator: Lindemann, Monica A.
Description: The focus of environmental philosophy has thus far heavily depended on the extension of rights to nonhuman nature. Due to inherent difficulties with this approach to environmental problems, I propose a shift from the contemporary language of rights and duties to the concept of character development. I claim that a theory of environmental virtue ethics can circumvent many of the difficulties arising from the language of rights, duties, and moral claims by emphasizing the cultivation of certain dispositions in the individual moral agent. In this thesis, I examine the advantages of virtue ethics over deontological and utilitarian theories to show the potential of developing an ecological virtue ethic. I provide a preliminary list of ecological virtues by drawing on Aristotle's account of traditional virtues as well as on contemporary formulations of environmental virtues. Then, I propose that certain types of rules (rules of thumb) are valuable for the cultivation of environmental virtues, since they affect the way the moral agent perceives a particular situation. Lastly, I offer preliminary formulations of these rules of thumb.
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Burn and Sow: The Ethical Implications of Ecological Restoration

Burn and Sow: The Ethical Implications of Ecological Restoration

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Date: August 2005
Creator: Mauritz, Elizabeth
Description: Ecological restoration is quickly becoming a major approach to how humans interact with the natural world. Some view restoration as another land management technique on par with conservation and preservation. Others view it as a way to make reparations for our misdeeds and to reincorporate humans into the natural world. Ideas regarding restoration from key academics and restorationists are evaluated here. Their views have set the stage for the contemporary paradigm. Values that may be attributed to restoration and received from it are evaluated. I discuss my own reservations regarding potential problems with the product and practice of restoration. What is at stake regarding the involvement of people in restoration is examined, focusing on the different impacts volunteers and paid workers have on the value of the practice and outcome of the product.
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Private Property in America: Land Use and the Ethics of Owning Land

Private Property in America: Land Use and the Ethics of Owning Land

Date: December 2005
Creator: Grant, Elizabeth Michelle
Description: Private property in the United States arose out of a tradition that emphasized the individual freedom to control holdings without interference from governmental influences. A sharp distinction between society as a whole and individual rights isolated ownership of private property from a notion of the common good. This dualistic framework excludes the possibility for forms of property that do not fall completely into either category. Property ownership attitudes are central to issues that often divide environmentalists and landowners. Property rights must be put in the context to understand the divergence between landowner attitudes and provisions made when the institution of private property was created. Finally, land itself as a type of property should be considered ethically distinct from other forms of property because of the interdependencies of human and nonhuman interests that the science of ecology has revealed.
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A New Approach to Texas Groundwater Management: An Environmental Justice Argument to Challenge the Rule of Capture

A New Approach to Texas Groundwater Management: An Environmental Justice Argument to Challenge the Rule of Capture

Date: December 2005
Creator: Purvis, Jody
Description: Texas is the last remaining state to utilize the rule of capture, a doctrine based on English Common Law, as a means of regulating groundwater resources. Many of the western states originally used the rule of capture to regulate their groundwater resources, but over time, each of these states replaced the rule of capture with other groundwater laws and regulations. The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) State Water Plan, Water for Texas-2002, warned Texans if current water usage and laws do not change, there will be an unmet need of 7.5 million acre-feet of water annually by 2050. This caused individuals in state and local government to begin asking the question, "How are we going to meet our future water needs?" In the search for a solution to the water shortage problem people have divided themselves into two groups: one wants to consider the implementation of water conservation measures to reduce per capita water use in order to meet future demands; while the other group wants to spend millions of dollars to build reservoirs and dams along with laying thousands of miles of pipeline to move water around the state. The fact that Texas has yet to come up with ...
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The American Community College's Obligation to Democracy

The American Community College's Obligation to Democracy

Date: December 2007
Creator: Pokross, Amy Elizabeth
Description: In this thesis, I address the dichotomy between liberal arts education and terminal vocational training in the American community college. The need is for reform in the community college in relation to philosophical instruction in order to empower citizens, support justice and create more sustainable communities. My call for reform involves a multicultural integration of philosophy into terminal/vocational programs as well as evolving the traditional liberal arts course to exist in a multicultural setting. Special attention is focused on liberating the oppressed, social and economic justice and philosophy of education.
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A Comparison of Five Robust Regression Methods with Ordinary Least Squares: Relative Efficiency, Bias and Test of the Null Hypothesis

A Comparison of Five Robust Regression Methods with Ordinary Least Squares: Relative Efficiency, Bias and Test of the Null Hypothesis

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Date: August 2001
Creator: Anderson, Cynthia, 1962-
Description: A Monte Carlo simulation was used to generate data for a comparison of five robust regression estimation methods with ordinary least squares (OLS) under 36 different outlier data configurations. Two of the robust estimators, Least Absolute Value (LAV) estimation and MM estimation, are commercially available. Three authormodified variations on MM were also included (MM1, MM2, and MM3). Design parameters that were varied include sample size (n=60 and n=180), number of independent predictor variables (2, 3 and 6), outlier density (0%, 5% and 15%) and outlier location (2x,2y s, 8x8y s, 4x,8y s and 8x,4y s). Criteria on which the regression methods were measured are relative efficiency, bias and a test of the null hypothesis. Results indicated that MM2 was the best performing robust estimator on relative efficiency. The best performing estimator on bias was MM1. The best performing regression method on the test of the null hypothesis was MM2. Overall, the MM-type robust regression methods outperformed OLS and LAV on relative efficiency, bias, and the test of the null hypothesis.
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Between Logos and Eros: New Orleans' Confrontation with Modernity

Between Logos and Eros: New Orleans' Confrontation with Modernity

Date: May 2008
Creator: Moore, Erin Christine
Description: This thesis examines the environmental and social consequences of maintaining the artificial divide between thinking and feeling, mind and matter, logos and eros. New Orleans, a city where the natural environment and human sensuality are both dominant forces, is used as a case study to explore the implications of our attempts to impose rational controls on nature - both physical and human nature. An analysis of New Orleans leading up to and immediately following Hurricane Katrina (2005) reveals that the root of the trouble in the city is not primarily environmental, technological, political, or sociological, but philosophical: there is something amiss in the relationship between human rationality and the corporeal world. I argue that policy decisions which do not include the contributions of experts from the humanities and qualitative social sciences - persons with expertise on human emotions, intentions, priorities and desires - will continue to be severely compromised.
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Process environmental philosophy

Process environmental philosophy

Date: May 2003
Creator: Corbeil, Marc J.V.
Description: A process-information approach is examined as a foundation for an environmental philosophy that is dynamic and elastic, with particular emphasis on value, beauty, integrity and stability supporting Aldo Leopold's vision. I challenge one of the basic assumptions of Western philosophy, namely the metaphysical primacy of substance. The classical, medieval and modern metaphysics of substance is presented with particular attention given the paradoxes of substance. Starting from the philosophy of Heraclitus, relatively ignored by the Western tradition of philosophy, a process philosophy is developed as an alternative to standard metaphysical attitudes in philosophy. A possible resolution of Zeno's paradoxes leads to consideration of other paradoxes of substance metaphysics. It is argued that substance metaphysics is incompatible with evidence found in the shifting paradigms of ecology and general science. Process philosophy is explored as a basis for an environmental philosophy, attempting to put the environment back into philosophy.
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Disturbing Nature's Beauty: Environmental Aesthetics in a New Ecological Paradigm

Disturbing Nature's Beauty: Environmental Aesthetics in a New Ecological Paradigm

Date: August 2009
Creator: Simus, Jason Boaz
Description: An ecological paradigm shift from the "balance of nature" to the "flux of nature" will change the way we aesthetically appreciate nature if we adopt scientific cognitivism-the view that aesthetic appreciation of nature must be informed by scientific knowledge. Aesthetic judgments are subjective, though we talk about aesthetic qualities as if they were objectively inherent in objects, events, or environments. Aesthetic judgments regarding nature are correct insofar as they are part of a community consensus regarding the currently dominant scientific paradigm. Ecological science is grounded in metaphors: nature is a divine order, a machine, an organism, a community, or a cybernetic system. These metaphors stimulate and guide scientific practice, but do not exist independent of a conceptual framework. They are at most useful fictions in terms of how they reflect the values underlying a paradigm. Contemporary ecology is a science driven more by aesthetic than metaphysical considerations. I review concepts in the history of nature aesthetics such as the picturesque, the sublime, disinterestedness, and formalism. I propose an analogy: just as knowledge of art history and theory should inform aesthetic appreciation of art, knowledge of natural history and ecological theory should inform aesthetic appreciation of nature. The "framing problem," is ...
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Deliberative Democracy, Divided Societies, and the Case of Appalachia

Deliberative Democracy, Divided Societies, and the Case of Appalachia

Date: August 2009
Creator: Tidrick, Charlee
Description: Theories of deliberative democracy, which emphasize open-mindedness and cooperative dialogue, confront serious challenges in deeply divided political populations constituted by polarized citizens unwilling to work together on issues they collectively face. The case of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia makes this clear. In my thesis, I argue that such empirical challenges are serious, yet do not compromise the normative desirability of deliberative democracy because communicative mechanisms can help transform adversarial perspectives into workable, deliberative ones. To realize this potential in divided societies, mechanisms must focus on healing and reconciliation, a point under-theorized by deliberativists who do not take seriously enough the feminist critique of public-private dualisms that illuminates political dimensions of such embodied processes. Ultimately, only a distinctly two-stage process of public deliberation in divided populations, beginning with mechanisms for healing and trust building, will give rise to the self-transformation necessary for second-stage deliberation aimed at collectively binding decisions.
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The Turn from Reactive to Responsive Environmentalism: The Wilderness Debate, Relational Metaphors, and the Eco-Phenomenology of Response

The Turn from Reactive to Responsive Environmentalism: The Wilderness Debate, Relational Metaphors, and the Eco-Phenomenology of Response

Date: December 2009
Creator: Christion, Timothy C.
Description: A shift is occurring in environmentalism to a post-metaphysical understanding of the human relationship to nature. Stemming from developments within the wilderness debate, ecofeminism, and eco-phenomenology, the old dichotomy between John Muir's tradition of privileging nature and Gifford Pinchot's tradition of privileging society is giving way to a relational paradigm that privileges neither. The starting point for this involves articulating the ontology of relationship anew. Insofar as the dominant metaphors of nature and their complimentary narratives present a choice between the agency of the human or the natural worlds, they encourage one-sided or "reactive" relationships to the world. By contrast, developments sensitive to the mutual agency between them encourage "responsive" relationships. The relational metaphors of "partnership" (Merchant) and "dialogue" (Plumwood) are prominent examples. The idea of "nonhuman agency," however, is counter-intuitive and problematic. The works of Buber, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty suggest a model of "mutual response" rather than "mutual agency."
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Cultivating the Ecological Conscience: Smith, Orr, and Bowers on Ecological Education

Cultivating the Ecological Conscience: Smith, Orr, and Bowers on Ecological Education

Date: December 2009
Creator: Hoelscher, David W.
Description: During the past two decades, one of the positive developments in academia has been the emergence of a sizable literature pertaining to ecological education-the theory and practice of preparing children and adults alike for ecologically responsible citizenship. Gregory A. Smith, David W. Orr, and C. A. Bowers are three of the more prolific writers in the field. Smith critiques modern primary and secondary education and argues for, and paints a picture of, an alternative "green pedagogy" that seeks to inculcate in students strong community and ecological values. Orr focuses on the social and ethical problems associated with the environmental crisis and the changes that colleges and universities need to make in order to become propagators of, rather than impediments to, a widespread diffusion of ecological literacy. Bowers emphasizes the role that ecologically problematic modern cultural assumptions play in blinkering the ecological vision of most educational theorists and in preventing the flowering of an eco-justice pedagogy. Each writer seeks the transformation of both education and culture with a view toward realizing ecological sustainability, strong communities, social justice, and moral edification. They neglect or ignore some important subjects, including animal welfare ethics, politics, and corporate influence on governments.
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Tracing the Path of Sustainable Development through Major International Conferences: A Brief History and Overview of Sustainable Development 1964-2002

Tracing the Path of Sustainable Development through Major International Conferences: A Brief History and Overview of Sustainable Development 1964-2002

Date: May 2010
Creator: Dunn, Benjamin P.
Description: 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.
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The Green Horizon: An (Environmental) Hermeneutics of Identification with Nature through Literature

The Green Horizon: An (Environmental) Hermeneutics of Identification with Nature through Literature

Date: August 2010
Creator: Bell, Nathan M.
Description: 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.
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The Environmental is Political: Exploring the Geography of Environmental Justice

The Environmental is Political: Exploring the Geography of Environmental Justice

Date: August 2010
Creator: Mysak, Mark
Description: 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 ...
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Situating Cost-Benefit Analysis for Environmental Justice

Situating Cost-Benefit Analysis for Environmental Justice

Date: December 2010
Creator: Wohlmuth, Erik Michael
Description: 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.
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Wilderness and Everyday Life.

Wilderness and Everyday Life.

Date: August 2011
Creator: Friskics, Scott
Description: 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.
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Redacted Dominionism: An Evangelical, Environmentally Sympathetic Reading of the Early Genesis Narrative

Redacted Dominionism: An Evangelical, Environmentally Sympathetic Reading of the Early Genesis Narrative

Date: August 2011
Creator: Cone, Christopher
Description: 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 ...
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Biodiversity Loss, the Motivation Problem, and the Future of Conservation Education in the United States

Biodiversity Loss, the Motivation Problem, and the Future of Conservation Education in the United States

Date: December 2011
Creator: Grove-Fanning, William
Description: 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 ...
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The Beauty of Nature As a Foundation for Environmental Ethics: China and the West

The Beauty of Nature As a Foundation for Environmental Ethics: China and the West

Date: May 2012
Creator: Gao, Shan
Description: 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 ...
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Sustainable Environmental Identities for Environmental Sustainability: Remaking Environmental Identities with the Help of Indigenous Knowledge

Sustainable Environmental Identities for Environmental Sustainability: Remaking Environmental Identities with the Help of Indigenous Knowledge

Date: December 2012
Creator: Parker, Jonathan
Description: 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 ...
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The Character of Environmental Citizenship: Virtue Education for Raising Morally Responsible Individuals

The Character of Environmental Citizenship: Virtue Education for Raising Morally Responsible Individuals

Date: May 2013
Creator: Lindemann, Monica A.
Description: 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 ...
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