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Catastrophe in Permanence: Benjamin's Natural History of Environmental Crisis

Description: Walter Benjamin warned in 1940 of a certain inconspicuous threat to political thinking, not least of all to materialism, that takes progress as an historical norm. Implicit in this conception is what he describes as an empty continuum of time along which the prevailing tradition chronicles its own mythic development and drains everyday life of genuine historical experience. The myth of progressive history advances insidiously today in consumeristic and technocratic attempts at reconciling cultural imagery with organic nature. In this dissertation, I pursue the contradictions of such images as they crystallize around the natural history of twenty-first century commodity society, where promises of ecological remediation, sustainable urban development, and climate change mitigation have yet to introduce a true crisis of historical experience to the ongoing environmental crisis of capitalism. A more radical way of seeing the cultural representation of nature would, I argue, penetrate its mythic determination by market forces and bear witness to the natural-historical ruins and traces that constitute, in Benjamin's terms, a single "catastrophe" where others perceive historical continuity. I argue that Benjamin's critique of progress is instructive to interpreting those utopian dreams, ablaze in consumer life and technological fantasy, that recent decades of growing environmental concern have channeled into the recovery of an experience of the natural world. His dialectics of nature and alienated history confront the wish-image of organic abundance with the transience of its appropriated expression in the commodity-form. Drawing together this confrontation with a varied literature on collective memory, nature, and the city, I suggest that our poverty of experience is more than simply a technical, economic, or even ecological problem, but rather follows from the commodification of history itself. The goal of this work is to reflect upon the potentiality of communal politics that subsist not in rushing headlong into a progressive ...
Date: May 2017
Creator: Bower, Matthew S

Practicing Relevance: The Origins, Practices, and Future of Applied Philosophy

Description: This dissertation takes up the question of the social function of philosophy. Popular accounts of the nature and value of philosophy reinforce long-standing perceptions that philosophy is useless or irrelevant to pressing societal problems. Yet, the increasingly neoliberal political-economic environment of higher education places a premium on mechanisms that link public funding for research to demonstrations of return on investment in the form of benefitting broader society. This institutional situation presents a philosophical problem warranting professional attention. This project offers a diagnosis of the problem and develops a way forward from it. Drawing from Foucauldian archaeological methods, my analysis focuses on the interplay of institutional structures and intellectual practices. Since the early 20th century, departments of philosophy on college and university campuses have been the center of gravity for professional philosophy in the US. Establishing this institutional ‘home' for philosophers drove the adoption of disciplinary practices, norms, and standards for inquiry. But the metaphilosophical assumptions underpinning disciplinarity have become problematic, I argue: they are poor guides for navigating the situation of higher education in the 21st century. Several movements within the profession of philosophy during the 1960s and 70s sought to reverse philosophers' general retreat from public affairs. Applied philosophy, environmental philosophy, and bioethics each offer a case study in attempts to address the problem of societal relevance. However, surveys of the journal literature in each field uncovered few reflections on whether or not individual projects, or the field as a whole, had any impact on the societal problems to which those philosophers turned their attention. This suggests a need for further thinking about implementation – how to institutionalize alternative practices of philosophy that do demonstrate societal relevance. By way of conclusion, I offer some of the necessary groundwork toward a philosophy of implementation, in the form of discussing significant ...
Date: May 2017
Creator: Barr, Kelli Ray

Environmental Ethics from the Periphery: José Lutzenberger and the Philosophical Analysis of an Unecological Economics

Description: This dissertation provides a philosophical analysis about the influence colonialism had over capitalism's current configuration and how their intricate interplay impacts both the social and the ecological spheres, in both central and peripheral countries. Such analysis draws from the work of José Lutzenberger, a Brazilian environmentalist. The current capitalist economic system tends to disregard the environment, since it would be greatly affected by negative externalities. A negative externality is an economic activity that imposes a negative effect on an unrelated third party. Many negative externalities are related to the environmental consequences of production and consumption. In addition, this dissertation explores the fact that an ecological crisis is also a social crisis. A genealogical and existential thread going from Brazil's early days as one of Portugal's colonies to the present is drawn, showing how colonialism helped to create the foundations and the conditions for the current exploitative capitalist system, in Brazil and elsewhere. To change this situation, the environment should not be entrusted to private interests but to an institution responsible for the good of society as a whole. Genuinely green economies are more prone to appear on the periphery, but only if global economic justice is achieved first.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Valenti Possamai, Fabio

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

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 the world that includes human activity, but is not reduced to it. As such, the world is capable of both self-organization and practice. Ultimately I use the philosophy-physics of Karen Barad to argue that operative wonder acts like a kind of superposition of relations between objects, and thereby accounts for a concept of wonder that is both ontologically significant and acutely generative.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Onishi, Brian Hisao

Expertise Revisited: Reflecting on the Intersection of Science and Democracy in the Case of Fracking

Description: This dissertation aims to explain the conditions under which expertise can undermine democratic decision making. I argue that the root of the conflict between expertise and democracy lies in what I call insufficiently “representative” expertise – that is forms of scientific research that are not relevant to the policy questions at hand and that fail to make visible their hidden values dimensions. I claim that the scholarly literature on the problem of expertise fails to recognize and address the issue correctly, because it does not open the black box of scientific methodologies. I maintain that only by making sense of the methodological choices of experts in the context of policy making can we determine the relevance of research and reveal the hidden socio-political values and consequences. Using the case of natural gas fracking, I demonstrate how expert contributions – even though epistemically sound – can muddle democratic policy processes. I present four case studies from controversies about fracking to show how to contextualize scientific methodologies in the pertinent political process. I argue that the common problem across all case studies is the failure of expertise to sufficiently represent stakeholders’ problems and concerns. In this context, “representation” has three criteria: (1) the operational research questions on which the qualified experts work are relevant to stakeholders’ problems and concerns; (2) the non-epistemic values and consequences of epistemic choices of experts are compatible with social and political values and priorities; and (3) hidden values attached to facts are fully transparent and openly debated. In the conclusion, I propose a normative version of this representation theory that can be used to evaluate the appropriateness of expertise for democratic policy making. Instead of the value-free science ideal, I propose a new ideal to legitimately allow non-epistemic values in scientific reasoning without compromising the soundness of ...
Date: December 2015
Creator: Ahmadi, Mahdi

Indigenous Knowledge on the Marshall Islands: a Case for Recognition Justice

Description: Recent decades have marked growing academic and scientific attention to the role of indigenous knowledge in climate change adaptation, mitigation, and detection strategies. However, how indigenous knowledge is incorporated is a point of contention between self-identifying indigenous groups and existing institutions which combat climate change. In this thesis, I argue that the full inclusion of indigenous knowledge is deterred by certain aspects of modernity. In order to overcome the problems of modernity, I argue that a recognition theory of justice is needed as it regards to indigenous knowledge. Recognition justice calls for indigenous groups to retain meaningful control over how and when their indigenous knowledge is shared. To supplement this, I use the Marshall Islands as a case study. The Marshall Islands afford a nice particular case because of their longstanding colonial relationship with the United States and the impending danger they face of rising sea levels. Despite this danger, the Republic of the Marshall Islands calls for increased recognition as leaders in addressing climate change.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Gessas, Jeff

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

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 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals voted on in September 2015 to prioritize local ecological knowledge and biocultural heritage.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Poole, Alexandria K.

On City Identity and Its Moral Dimensions

Description: The majority of people on Earth now live in cities, and estimates hold that 60 percent of the world’s cities have yet to be built. Now is the time for philosophers to develop a philosophy of the city to address the forthcoming issues that urbanization will bring. In this dissertation, I respond to this need for a philosophy of the city by developing a theory of city identity, developing some of the theory’s normative implications, illustrating the theory with a case study, and outlining the nature and future of philosophy of the city more generally. Indeed, this dissertation is only a part of my larger project of founding and institutionalizing this new field of both academic and socially-engaged philosophical activity. Throughout the history of the discipline, other areas such a personal identity have received numerous considerations, along with the concept of identity as an abstraction. For example, there is a bounty of research addressing problems pertaining to how objects and people retain an identity over time and claims about identity in general. While one could argue that cities are not any different than any other object, such an account fails to consider that a city’s dynamic nature makes it dissimilar to other things. To illustrate this point, I develop a position called dynamic composition as identity theory that provides a framework for understanding the identity of a city, exhibiting that views within analytic metaphysics are too narrow to apply to all cases. After establishing a concept of city identity, I use an applied mereology to develop a model of city identity that shows how the parts of a city fit together to form a complete city. This model introduces the normative dimension of my project by providing a way to identify how incongruence between a city’s parts can cause problems ...
Date: December 2015
Creator: Epting, Shane Ray

A Restorative Environmental Justice for the Prison Industrial Complex: a Transformative Feminist Theory of Justice

Description: This dissertation provides a feminist restorative model of environmental justice that addresses the injustices found within UNICOR’s e-waste recycling operations. A feminist restorative environmental justice challenges the presupposition that grassroots efforts, law and policy, medical and scientific research, and theoretical pursuits (alone or in conjunction) are sufficient to address the emotional and relational harm of environmental injustices. To eliminate environmental harms, this model uses collaborative dialogue for interested parties to prevent environmental harm. To encourage participation, a feminist restorative model accepts many forms of knowledge and truth as ‘legitimate’ and offers an opportunity for women to share how their personal experiences of love, violence, and caring differ from men and other women and connect to larger social practices. This method of environmental justice offers opportunities for repair, reparation and reintegration that can transform perspectives on criminality, dangerous practices and structures in the PIC, and all persons who share in a restorative encounter.
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Date: May 2015
Creator: Conrad, Sarah M.

Mapping Overlapping Constellations: Nature and Technology in Research in Philosophy and Technology/Techné and Environmental Ethics

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. D. Ross’s ethical theory, which fuses prima facie duties with virtues, to integrate traditional ethical concerns with those raised by philosophers focused on technology and those concerned with the environment.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Miller, Glen

Environmental Imagination: the Constitution and Projection of a Sustainable Ethos

Description: This dissertation provides a theoretical analysis and examination of the role of imagination in the formation of an environmental ethos. The majority of ethical theories in environmental thought largely neglect the role that imagination plays in both the relationships that humans form with their environment, and the subsequent role that imagination plays in constituting the way that those relationships are understood ethically. To explore the role of imagination in constituting and subsequently projecting such an ethical way of being, this dissertation selectively analyzes the history of imagination in philosophy, cognitive science, and environmental thought. In addition, this dissertation also explores the role that images play in forming collective responses to environmental disasters, and the further role that imagination plays in overcoming the moral motivation gap.
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Date: December 2014
Creator: Day, Philip Garrett

Discursive Horizons of Human Identity and Wilderness in Postmodern Environmental Ethics: A Case Study of the Guadalupe Mountains of Texas

Description: Using a genealogy of the narratives of the Guadalupes, I explore three moral identities. The Mescalero Apache exist as caretakers of sacred space. Spanish and Anglo settlers exist as conquerors of a hostile land. The park service exists as captives, imprisoned in the belief that economic justifications can protect the intrinsic value of wilderness. The narrative shift from oral to abstract text-based culture entails a shift from intrinsic to instrumental valuation. I conclude that interpretation of narratives, such as those of the Guadalupes, is not by itself a sufficient condition for change. Interpretation is, however, a necessary condition for expanding the cultural conversation beyond merely instrumental justifications to include caring for wilderness's intrinsic values.
Date: May 1993
Creator: Hood, Robert L. (Robert Leroy)

The Rhetoric of Ecofeminism: A Postmodern Inquiry

Description: Ecofeminism is a mixture of two important contemporary schools of thought; feminism and ecology. The rhetoric generated from ecofeminism focuses on language, on its potential to reconstruct deeply embedded attitudes and beliefs. Thus, ecofeminists attempt to transform society through the redescription and redefinition of modern concepts into postmodern concepts. The rhetoric of ecofeminism, set in postmodern context, is a fusion of substantive and stylistic features that simultaneously deconstruct patriarchal structures of exploitation and domination and reconstruct lateral-collaborative structures of cooperation and liberation. In short, ecofeminist rhetoric portends a persuasive transformation of the social-natural conditions of existence.
Date: May 1993
Creator: Robinson, Michael W. (Michael William)

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

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 and practices that have local and global significance for understanding interfaith dialog, social justice, and environmental sustainability and thus constitute a useful contribution to the theory and practice of human emancipation in our times.
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Date: May 2014
Creator: Mallik, Bidisha

Ye Si Ye Jong: a Martial Arts Approach to Business Ethics

Description: The purpose of this dissertation is to offer a new approach to business ethics grounded in the martial arts. This dissertation argues that traditional rules and regulations approaches to business ethics, though important, are inadequate. Such “top down” approaches must be complimented with corporate reform that comes “from the inside out.” The dissertation consults the martial arts to develop a core, multifaceted virtue – Ye Si Ye Jong – that ought to form the foundation for creating a corporate culture (or an ethos for business) that embraces a new approach to decision-making at every level of the organization – from the boards of directors, to individual employees. This dissertation frames the problem as a matter of corporate culture or ethos. This framing is a distinctive approach to corporate or business ethics in two respects: its emphasis on virtue and its integration of core concepts from the martial arts. This dissertation utilizes an uncommon example of business decision-making as its source for a case-study – a prominent university. While many may not think of colleges or universities as exemplars of common business activities, they do, in fact, provide a source of many ethical business dilemmas, both common and unique. Universities have boards of directors, consumers (students and others), and regularly evaluate many financial and cost accounting situations that are not unusual to most businesses. The Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State University provides an opportunity that is ripe for consideration of various business ethics decision-making and, as such, is analyzed later in this paper.
Date: December 2013
Creator: House, Shaun D.

Environmental Philosophy and the Ethics of Terraforming Mars: Adding the Voices of Environmental Justice and Ecofeminism to the Ongoing Debate

Description: Questions concerning the ethics of terraforming Mars have received some attention from both philosophers and scientists during recent decades. A variety of theoretical approaches have been supplied by a number of authors, however research pursuant to this thesis has indicated at least two major blindspots in the published literature on the topic. First, a broad category of human considerations involving risks, dangers, and social, political, and economic inequalities that would likely be associated with efforts to terraform Mars have been woefully overlooked in the published literature to date. I attempt to rectify that oversight by employing the interpretive lens of environmental justice to address questions of environmental colonialism, equality in terms of political participation and inclusion in decision making structures, risks associated with technological progressivism, and responses to anthropogenic climate change. Only by including the historically marginalized and politically disenfranchised "voices," of both humans and nonhumans, can any future plan to terraform Mars be deemed ethical, moral or just according to the framework provided by environmental justice. Furthermore, broader political inclusion of this sort conforms to what ecofeminist author Val Plumwood calls the "intentional recognition stance" and provides an avenue through which globally societies can include nonanthropocentric considerations in decision making frameworks both for questions of terraforming Mars and also for a more local, contemporary set of environmental issues. The second blindspot I seek to correct concerns motivations for attempting terraforming on Mars previously inadequately philosophically elaborated in the published discourse. Specifically, the nonanthropocentric considerations postulated in the second chapter by various authors writing about terraforming, and elaborated in third with regard to environmental justice, reach their culmination in an ecofeminist ethic of care, sustainability, reproduction, and healthy growth which I uniquely elaborate based on a metaphorical similarity to the relationship between a gardener and a garden. Although at first ...
Date: August 2013
Creator: French, Robert Heath

Expendable Creation: Classical Pentecostalism and Environmental Disregard

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.
Date: December 1997
Creator: Goins, Jeffrey P. (Jeffrey Paul)

The Character of Environmental Citizenship: Virtue Education for Raising Morally Responsible Individuals

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 play, as well as the inclusion of physical and outdoor activities, etc. Furthermore, habituation constitutes the basis for the acquisition of good habits, and as such it requires the application of rewards and punishment by a caring tutor, who at the same time can serve as a role model for virtuous behavior. Finally, I extrapolate if and how character education can be employed to make people more environmentally conscious citizens. I conclude that environmental virtue or character education is the most effective method of environmental education, since it affects how an individual understands, views, and subsequently interacts with the natural ...
Date: May 2013
Creator: Lindemann, Monica A.

The Ways of Reflection: Heidegger, Science, Reflection, and Critical Interdisciplinarity

Description: This thesis argues that there is a philosophical attempt directed at combating the fragmentation of the sciences that starts with Heidegger and continues today through Trish Glazebrook's interpretations of the former's concept of "reflection," and Carl Mitcham and Robert Frodeman's concept of "critical interdisciplinarity" (CID). This is important as the sciences are both more implicated in our lives and more fragmented than ever. While scientific knowledge is pursued for its own sake, the pertinent facts, meaning, and application of the science is ignored. By linking Heidegger's views on the fragmentation of the sciences to Glazebrook's interpretations of reflection and Mitcham and Frodeman's CID, I show that CID is a concrete realization of Heidegger's reflection.
Date: May 2013
Creator: Toole, Toby Houston

Ecological Forms of Life: Wittgenstein and Ecolinguistics

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.
Date: December 2012
Creator: Sarratt, Nicholas M.

Sustainable Environmental Identities for Environmental Sustainability: Remaking Environmental Identities with the Help of Indigenous Knowledge

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 identities.
Date: December 2012
Creator: Parker, Jonathan

The Beauty of Nature As a Foundation for Environmental Ethics: China and the West

Description: My dissertation aims at constructing an environmental ethics theory based on environmental aesthetics in order to advocate and promote environmentally sustainable practices, policies, and lifestyles. I attempt to construct an integrated environmental aesthetics in order to inspire people’s feelings of love towards nature and motivate them to protect it. In order to achieve this goal, I first examine the philosophical understanding and aesthetic appreciation of nature from philosophical traditions of China, which have an impact on the general public’s attitude towards nature. in chapter one of my dissertation, I point out that nature is viewed as an organic system which is always in a self-generating process of production and reproduction of life. the metaphysical foundation for this perspective of nature is ch’i. Therefore the aesthetic appreciation of nature in China is also the aesthetic appreciation of ch’i. with regard to the concept of ch’i, I focus on the following three questions: (1) what are the objective and aesthetic features of ch’i? (2) How do the Chinese appreciate aesthetic features of ch’i? (3) Why the objective features of ch’i are regarded as the objects of aesthetic appreciation? I argue that the Chinese appreciate the aesthetic features of ch’i by using intellectual intuition and that empathy is the reason why the objective features of ch’i are considered to be aesthetic features. in Chapter 2, I explain in detail the two aesthetic categories for aesthetic appreciation of nature in two major philosophical schools in China: emptiness and creativity. in Chapter 3, I examine the philosophical foundations for aesthetic appreciation of nature in the West. I first investigate the influence of traditional Western philosophy on the perceptions of nature. I argue that traditional Western philosophical thinking doesn’t support aesthetic appreciation of nature. I point out that aesthetic appreciation of nature started from eighteenth century ...
Date: May 2012
Creator: Gao, Shan

Biodiversity Loss, the Motivation Problem, and the Future of Conservation Education in the United States

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 to the value of species or biodiversity, both of which are temporally distant, abstract and general moral patients, but indirectly, by focusing on the concrete and particular lives of extant and near future moral patients. By applying techniques that have been developed to overcome the motivation problem as it pertains to distant future human generations, conservationists have additional resources to draw upon in their efforts to motivate American citizens to preserve biodiversity. This dissertation’s contribution to the fields of environmental philosophy and conservation biology is both theoretical and practical. It is theoretically significant to elucidate the nature of moral failure ...
Date: December 2011
Creator: Grove-Fanning, William

Wilderness and Everyday Life.

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.
Date: August 2011
Creator: Friskics, Scott