UNT Theses and Dissertations - 4 Matching Results

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The Turn from Reactive to Responsive Environmentalism: The Wilderness Debate, Relational Metaphors, and the Eco-Phenomenology of Response

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."
Date: December 2009
Creator: Christion, Timothy C.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Cultivating the Ecological Conscience: Smith, Orr, and Bowers on Ecological Education

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.
Date: December 2009
Creator: Hoelscher, David W.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Disturbing Nature's Beauty: Environmental Aesthetics in a New Ecological Paradigm

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 the problem that natural environments are not discrete objects, so knowing what to focus on in an environment is difficult. The "fusion problem" is the problem of how to fuse the sensory aspect of aesthetic appreciation with highly theoretical scientific knowledge. I resolve these two problems by defending a normative version of the theory-laden observation thesis. Positive aesthetics is the view that insofar as nature is untouched by humans, it is always beautiful and never ugly. I defend an amended and updated version of positive aesthetics that is consistent with the central elements of contemporary ecology, and emphasize the heuristic, ...
Date: August 2009
Creator: Simus, Jason Boaz
Partner: UNT Libraries

Deliberative Democracy, Divided Societies, and the Case of Appalachia

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.
Date: August 2009
Creator: Tidrick, Charlee
Partner: UNT Libraries