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 Degree Discipline: Philosophy
 Collection: UNT Theses and Dissertations
Trans-boundary river basins: a discourse on water scarcity, conflict, and water resource management.

Trans-boundary river basins: a discourse on water scarcity, conflict, and water resource management.

Date: December 2003
Creator: Riley, Timothy
Description: This thesis is an inquiry regarding the interconnections between water scarcity, geopolitics, resource management, and the strategies for developing effective ways to resolve conflict and encourage sustainable water resource use in developing countries. The ecological services of trans-boundary rivers are explored in conjunction with the potential impacts to freshwater availability due to economic modernization, water resource development, and decision making regimes that determine how water is allocated among competing users. Anthropogenic stressors that induce water scarcity and the geopolitical mechanisms of conflict are studied. A discourse on the creation and functional extent of global and localized water ethics is investigated, emphasizing the importance of perceptual dispositions of water users in understanding the value of trans-boundary river basins.
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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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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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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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Expendable Creation: Classical Pentecostalism and Environmental Disregard

Expendable Creation: Classical Pentecostalism and Environmental Disregard

Date: December 1997
Creator: Goins, Jeffrey P. (Jeffrey Paul)
Description: Whereas the ecological crisis has elicited a response from many quarters of American Christianity, classical (or denominational) Pentecostals have expressed almost no concern about environmental problems. The reasons for their disregard of the environment lie in the Pentecostal worldview which finds expression in their: (1) tradition; (2) view of human and natural history; (3) common theological beliefs; and (4) scriptural interpretation. All these aspects of Pentecostalism emphasize and value the supernatural--conversely viewing nature as subordinate, dependent and temporary. Therefore, the ecocrisis is not problematic because, for Pentecostals, the natural environment is: of only relative value; must serve the divine plan; and will soon be destroyed and replaced. Furthermore, Pentecostals are likely to continue their environmental disregard, since the supernaturalism which spawns it is key to Pentecostal identity.
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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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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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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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Negotiating Environmental Relationships: Why Language Matters to Environmental Philosophy

Negotiating Environmental Relationships: Why Language Matters to Environmental Philosophy

Date: December 2003
Creator: Martin, Vernon J.
Description: The medium of language is important to environmental philosophy, and more specifically, to the establishment and understanding of environmental relationships. The differences between animal and human language point to our unique semantic range, which results from our neuro-linguistic process of signification. An examination of the linguistic implications of the problem of nature and the tenets of semiotics challenges the idea of a clean word to world fit. Because signs are the medium in which meaning is constructed, questions about nature must in part be questions of language. Environmental discourse itself is bound up in sociolinguistic productions and we must attend not only to what language says, but to what it does. NEPA functions as a speech act that systematically invokes an ethical framework by which it colonizes the domain of valuation and fails to provide a genuine opportunity for non-commodity values to be expressed.
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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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Toward a philosophy of water: Politics of the pollution and damming along the Ganges River.

Toward a philosophy of water: Politics of the pollution and damming along the Ganges River.

Date: May 2007
Creator: McAnally, Elizabeth Ann
Description: This thesis sets out to develop a beginning of a philosophy of water by considering philosophical implications of ecological crises currently happening along the waters of the Ganges River. In my first chapter, I give a historical account of a philosophy of water. In my second chapter, I describe various natural and cultural representations of the Ganges, accounting for physical features of the river, Hindu myths and rituals involving the river, and ecological crises characterized by the pollution and damming of the river. In my third and final chapter, I look into the philosophical implications of these crises in terms of the works of the contemporary philosopher Bruno Latour.
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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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Wild Practices: Teaching the Value of Wildness

Wild Practices: Teaching the Value of Wildness

Date: May 2004
Creator: Lindquist, Christopher R.
Description: The notion of wildness as a concept that is essentially intractable to definition has profound linguistic and ethical implications for wilderness preservation and environmental education. A survey of the ways in which wilderness value is expressed through language reveals much confusion and repression regarding our understanding of the autonomy of nature. By framing discussions of wilderness through fact-driven language games, the value of the wild autonomy in nature becomes ineffable. In removing wildness from the discourse on wilderness we convert wilderness value from an intrinsic value into a distorted instrumental value. If we want to teach others that wilderness value means something more than a recreational, scientific, or economic opportunity, we need to include other ways of articulating this value in our education programs. Through linking the wildness of natural systems with the wild forms in human language games, I examine the conceptual freedom required for valuing autonomy in nature. The focus on what is required of language in expressing the intrinsic value of wilderness reveals that wilderness preservation and environmental education need complementary approaches to the current science-based frameworks, such as those used by the National Park Service. The disciplines of poetry, literature, ethics, and aesthetics offer alternative language ...
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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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Taoism and Contemporary Environmental Literature

Taoism and Contemporary Environmental Literature

Date: December 2001
Creator: Kane, Virginia M.
Description: This thesis encompasses a survey of contemporary environmental literature (1970s to the present) as it relates to the tenets of Taoist literature, specifically the Chuang Tzu and the Tao te Ching. The thesis also presents and evaluates pertinent criticisms concerning the practice of relating modern environmental problems to ancient Chinese philosophy. The thesis contains a preface that describes the historic roots of Taoism as well as an explanation of the Chinese terminology in the paper. The environmental literature is divided into three major groups and discussed in the three chapters of the paper. The three groups include mainstream environmentalists, deep ecology, and ecofeminism.
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