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 Degree Discipline: Philosophy
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Earth Tones: How Environmental Journalism and Environmental Ethics Influence Environmental Citizenship

Earth Tones: How Environmental Journalism and Environmental Ethics Influence Environmental Citizenship

Date: August 2007
Creator: Wall, Don
Description: Environmental ethics and environmental journalism are influencing the developing philosophy of environmental citizenship. This philosophy involves the ideas that people are part of the environment, that the future depends on a healthy environment, and that action on behalf of the environment is necessary. It applies to individuals, communities, large and small companies and corporations, governments, and a coalition of nations. Environmental philosophers and environmental journalists can work together, in a symbiotic way, to foster discussions among citizens and policy makers about ideas as well as events, and thus, influence attitudes and policies, and continue to influence environmental citizenship. Environmental citizenship as an extension of democracy offers the best chance for undoing the manmade problems which are degrading the quality of life on Earth. A healthier environment is the will of the people. An informed, voting public will succeed in creating a healthier environment. Pioneering work by philosophers and journalists, especially over the last forty-five years has brought the dialogue about environmental problems to an unprecedented level and continues to offer encouragement to the mindful evolution of mankind. These ecological discussions of rights and responsibilities, intrinsic and economic values, pragmatism and utilitarianism, culture and spirit, are increasingly being applied to a ...
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