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 Degree Discipline: Philosophy
 Collection: UNT Theses and Dissertations
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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