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 Degree Discipline: Philosophy
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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The Contribution of Mira Behn and Sarala Behn to Social and Environmental Transformation in the Indian State of Uttarakhand

The Contribution of Mira Behn and Sarala Behn to Social and Environmental Transformation in the Indian State of Uttarakhand

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Date: May 2014
Creator: Mallik, Bidisha
Description: The influence of Mohandas K. Gandhi on social and environmental movements in post-colonial India has been widely acknowledged. Yet, the contributions of two European associates of Gandhi, Madeleine Slade and Catherine Mary Heilemann, better known in India as Mira Behn and Sarala Behn, have not received the due attention of the academic community. This dissertation is an examination of the philosophy and social activism of Mira Behn and Sarala Behn and their roles in the evolution of Gandhian philosophy of socioeconomic reconstruction and environmental conservation in the present Indian state of Uttarakhand. Instead of just being acolytes of Gandhi, I argue that these women developed ideas and practices that drew upon from an extensive intellectual terrain that cannot be limited to Gandhi’s work. I delineate the directions in which Gandhian thought and experiments in rural development work evolved through the lives, activism, and written contributions of these two women. Particularly, I examine their influence on social and environmental movements, such as the Chipko and the Anti-Tehri Dam movements, and their roles in promoting grassroots social development and environmental sustainability in the mountain communities of Uttarakhand. Mira Behn and Sarala Behn’s integrative philosophical worldviews present epistemological, sociopolitical, ethical, and metaphysical principles ...
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Toward an Ecofeminist Environmental Jurisprudence: Nature, Law, and Gender

Toward an Ecofeminist Environmental Jurisprudence: Nature, Law, and Gender

Date: August 1999
Creator: Mallory, Chaone
Description: This thesis develops a legal theory reflecting the insights of feminism and environmental philosophy. I argue that human beings are not ontologically separate, but embedded in webs of relationality with natural others. My primary purposes are to 1) delineate ways in which institutions of modernity (such as law and science) have precipitated ecosocial crisis through the attempt to dialectically enforce mastery and control over nature and women; and 2) explore alternate political forms and ontologies which challenge the classical liberalist view of the (human) individual as a radically isolated, discrete, autonomous being. My overarching theme is that law functions as a narrative that can both hinder and enhance the promotion of ecological ideas, and how ecofeminism can contribute to transformative projects of environmental philosophy and feminist law.
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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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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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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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Mapping Overlapping Constellations: Nature and Technology in “Research in Philosophy and Technology”/“techné” and “Environmental Ethics"

Mapping Overlapping Constellations: Nature and Technology in “Research in Philosophy and Technology”/“techné” and “Environmental Ethics"

Date: May 2015
Creator: Miller, Glen
Description: The overlap between the separate fields of philosophy of technology and environmental philosophy can be investigated using the two longest running flagship journals for each field, Environmental Ethics (EE) and Research in Philosophy and Technology, which is now published as Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology (RPT/Techné). By looking at the theoretical and conceptual ideas on nature and the environment expressed in RPT/Techné, at those on technology and artifacts expressed in EE, and at the individuals who contributed them using the principles of social epistemology as developed by Steve Fuller, a stereoscopic view incorporating the insights from both specializations can be constructed. The ideas developed in the articles can be charted like stars within constellations, loosely connected in groupings that are neither clear nor evident. Five constellations can be discerned from the relevant articles in each journal, and while there is some overlap, there is considerable difference. The stereoscopic view is developed in three ways: first, by reviewing the contributions of authors who have published in both journals; second, by utilizing resources in both specializations to add subtlety and depth to the ideas expressed, starting in this case from Jacques Ellul’s “Nature, Technique and Artificiality”; and third, by using W. ...
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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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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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Strange Matter, Strange Objects: An Ontological Reorientation of the Philosophical Concept of Wonder

Strange Matter, Strange Objects: An Ontological Reorientation of the Philosophical Concept of Wonder

Date: May 2016
Creator: Onishi, Brian Hisao
Description: Wonder has had a rich and diverse history in the western philosophical tradition. Both Plato and Aristotle claim that philosophy begins in wonder, while Descartes marks it as the first of the passions and Heidegger uses it as a signpost for a new trajectory of philosophy away from idealism and nihilism. Despite such a rich history, wonder is almost always thought to be exhausted by the acquisition of knowledge. That is, wonder is thought of almost exclusively in epistemological terms and is discarded as soon as knowledge has been achieved. In this dissertation, I argue for an ontological reorientation of wonder that values wonder beyond its epistemic uses. To do this, I read the phenomenological and ontological work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty through recent developments in object-oriented ontology and new materialism. Much of Merleau-Ponty's work is directed toward dissolving the distinction between subject and object. His insights regarding the mutual constitution of the world lead to the possibility of an operative wonder that occurs between subject and object. Both object-oriented ontology and new materialism radicalize these insights by articulating them in terms of a vibrant or quasi-agential material world. Objects and assemblages of objects are capable of performing the becoming of ...
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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 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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Urban Sustainability and the Extinction of Experience: Acknowledging Drivers of Biocultural Loss for Socio-ecological Well-being

Urban Sustainability and the Extinction of Experience: Acknowledging Drivers of Biocultural Loss for Socio-ecological Well-being

Date: December 2015
Creator: Poole, Alexandria K.
Description: In this dissertation I address urban sustainability with a focus on loss of cultural heritage and ecological knowledge by expanding the concept “extinction of experience” (EoE). Conceptualized by conservationist Robert Michael Pyle, EoE is the loss of nature experiences leading to apathy towards biodiversity and degradation of the common habitat. I expand upon Pyle’s formulation of the concept by considering the EoE cycle as an indirect driver that amplifies biodiversity losses. Additionally, I introduce the analysis of interrelated losses of biological and cultural diversity in relation to EoE. With a biocultural approach I discuss that EoE is tied to the infrastructural inertia within the global urban economy. I propose that addressing the EoE cycle is critical in that as a complex and multi-faceted process, it cements threats to biological and cultural diversity as permanent fixtures within society by obscuring their significance in light of economic development. This cycle remains a hidden problematic in that it perpetuates the environmental crisis while making such losses invisible within day-to-day lifestyle habits, constructing an emerging urban culture within the global economy that is ignorant of ecological processes and sustainability requirements. I frame the implications of EoE with an analysis of the newly proposed revisions ...
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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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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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Ecological Forms of Life: Wittgenstein and Ecolinguistics

Ecological Forms of Life: Wittgenstein and Ecolinguistics

Date: December 2012
Creator: Sarratt, Nicholas M.
Description: The present philosophical literature on philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein tends to either stagnate by focusing upon issues particular to Wittgenstein's philosophy or expand the boundaries of Wittgenstein's thought to shed light onto other areas of study. One area that has largely been ignored is the realm of environmental philosophy. I prepare the way for a solution to this by first arguing that Wittgenstein's later philosophy of language shows 'proto-ecolinguistic' concerns, sharing much in common with the ecolinguistic thought of both Peter Mühlhäusler and Luisa Maffi. This reading, as well as the work of Mühlhäusler and Maffi, is a starting point for an opposition to a common trend in much of contemporary linguistics of adhering to a linguistic paradigm of universalizing linguistic atomism that gives an impoverished account of language. This impoverished account is argued to have potential environmental and ecological consequences which the universalizing atomistic paradigm is ill-equipped to address.
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Acting Ethically: Behavior and the Sustainable Society

Acting Ethically: Behavior and the Sustainable Society

Date: August 2007
Creator: Sewell, Patrick
Description: One of the most important factors for creating the sustainable society is that the individuals in that society behave in an environmentally sustainable fashion. Yet achieving appropriate behavior in any society is difficult, and the challenge is no less with regards to sustainability. Three of the most important factors for determining behavior have recently been highlighted by psychologists: personal efficacy, social influence, and internal standards. Because these three factors play a prominent role in behavior, it is necessary to examine what role they play in creating sustainability and how they may be utilized to achieve optimal behavior patterns. Ultimately, in order to achieve sustainability solutions must focus on individual action, realistic governmental regulation, and sustained, direct encounters with the natural world. While much time and energy has been spent on social influence and personal efficacy, less has been devoted to internal standards and this area needs more attention if there is to be any realistic attempt at creating proper behavior patterns.
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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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