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 Degree Discipline: Philosophy
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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