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Entering the Circle: The Only Viable Hermeneutic for a Biblical Response to Ecocrisis

Description: A paradox exists in attempting to resolve ecocrisis: awareness of ecological concerns is growing, but the crisis continues to escalate. John Firor, a well-known scientist, suggests that to resolve the paradox and hence ecocrisis, we need an alternative definition of "human beingness"--that is, a human ontology.
Date: August 1997
Creator: Veak, Tyler J. (Tyler James)

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

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.
Date: August 1999
Creator: Mallory, Chaone

Wilderness Women: Embodiment in Nature

Description: Virginia Woolf makes clear in her book A Room of One's Own that "[A] woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write…." This statement extends to all endeavors by women, including sport. The gap between men and women's sports is not bridged by monetary compensation. The domination of women exists in conceptual ideals and how those are expressed through our roles in this world. I use Val Plumwood's ecological feminist theory to expose the blatant masculinity imposed upon sport. I shall argue that sport is an arena of constant struggle over basic social conceptions of men and women. My endeavor is to implore traditionally masculine territory, and show sport as the domain of no single gender, but a field of simplicity and cooperation.
Date: August 2000
Creator: Cordell, Tami

Taoism and Contemporary Environmental Literature

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.
Date: December 2001
Creator: Kane, Virginia M.

Approaches to Nature Aesthetics: East Meets West

Description: Nature aesthetics is examined as an approach to environmental ethics. The characteristics of proper nature appreciation show that every landscape can be appreciated impartially in light of the dynamic processes of nature. However, it is often claimed that natural beauty decreases if humans interfere into nature. This claim leads to the separation of human culture and nature, and limits the number of landscapes which can be protected in terms of aesthetic value. As a solution to this separation, a non-dualistic Japanese aesthetics is examined as a basis for the achievement of the coexistence of culture and nature. Ecological interrelationships between human culture and nature are possible by means of an aesthetic consciousness in terms of non-hierarchical attitudes.
Date: December 2002
Creator: Toyoda, Mitsuyo

Ranges of consideration: crossing the fields of ecology, philosophy and science studies.

Description: Environmental issues are often complex with many different constituents operating according to a broad range of communication techniques. In order to foster negotiations, different perspectives need to be articulated in lucid ways sensitive to various viewpoints and circumstances. In my thesis I investigate how certain approaches to environmental discourse effect dialogue and negotiation. My first two chapters focus on environmental problems surrounding rangeland ecology along the U.S./Mexico border; whereas the last two chapters explore more theoretical conflicts concerning the philosophy of nature. Throughout the thesis I show the significance of nonhumans (prairie dogs, cattle, biological assessment sheets, environmental laws, etc.) in the human community. Only by considering the roles of nonhumans do we broaden and enrich the conversation between ourselves concerning environmental issues.
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Date: December 2002
Creator: Dinneen, Nathan

Process environmental philosophy

Description: A process-information approach is examined as a foundation for an environmental philosophy that is dynamic and elastic, with particular emphasis on value, beauty, integrity and stability supporting Aldo Leopold's vision. I challenge one of the basic assumptions of Western philosophy, namely the metaphysical primacy of substance. The classical, medieval and modern metaphysics of substance is presented with particular attention given the paradoxes of substance. Starting from the philosophy of Heraclitus, relatively ignored by the Western tradition of philosophy, a process philosophy is developed as an alternative to standard metaphysical attitudes in philosophy. A possible resolution of Zeno's paradoxes leads to consideration of other paradoxes of substance metaphysics. It is argued that substance metaphysics is incompatible with evidence found in the shifting paradigms of ecology and general science. Process philosophy is explored as a basis for an environmental philosophy, attempting to put the environment back into philosophy.
Date: May 2003
Creator: Corbeil, Marc J.V.

Corridors in Conservation and Philosophy

Description: My thesis focuses on philosophical themes implicit in corridor conservation, using the Big Thicket National Preserve as an example. The way in which corridors, boundaries and communities are ambiguous, as both limits and connections, is dealt with. Corridor-patch matrices assemble ecological and human groups into temporary communities, often with conflicting interests. Such constellations foreground how a foreigner's boundary crossing is a notion important to both conservation and a philosophical study of being, seen as being always in relation with otherness. In this context, the notion of foreignness and Jean-Luc Nancy's idea of being-with is explored. Understanding the complex network of relations in which an entity exists leads to an awareness of its ambiguous nature. To facilitate judgment with such ambiguity, one needs a contextual understanding of a situation.
Date: August 2003
Creator: Benton, Christine S.

Negotiating Environmental Relationships: Why Language Matters to Environmental Philosophy

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.
Date: December 2003
Creator: Martin, Vernon J.

Trans-boundary river basins: a discourse on water scarcity, conflict, and water resource management.

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.
Date: December 2003
Creator: Riley, Timothy

Ethics Naturally: An Environmental Ethic Based on Naturalness

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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Date: May 2004
Creator: Leard, Jason

Wild Practices: Teaching the Value of Wildness

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 games that allow for a more fluid, imaginative, and open-ended understanding of the autonomy of nature, and a means for articulating the value of this wildness that implies an ethical position of humility.
Date: May 2004
Creator: Lindquist, Christopher R.

Burn and Sow: The Ethical Implications of Ecological Restoration

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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Date: August 2005
Creator: Mauritz, Elizabeth

Embedded Within Landscapes: Agrarian Philosophy and Sustainable Agriculture

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.
Date: August 2005
Creator: Leonard, Evan

Environmental Virtue Education: Ancient Wisdom Applied

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.
Date: August 2005
Creator: Lindemann, Monica A.

A New Approach to Texas Groundwater Management: An Environmental Justice Argument to Challenge the Rule of Capture

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 a definitive answer to their water shortage peaked my curiosity to research what caused the State of Texas to get to a point of having a shortage of fresh water and then look at possible solutions that incorporate water conservation measures. In my thesis I present a historical overview of the rule of capture as Texas's means of groundwater management in order to illustrate the role it played in contributing to the water shortage Texans now face. I also take a historical look at the environmental justice movement, a grass-roots movement by environmentalists and Civil Rights activists working together to ...
Date: December 2005
Creator: Purvis, Jody

Private Property in America: Land Use and the Ethics of Owning Land

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.
Date: December 2005
Creator: Grant, Elizabeth Michelle

Toward a philosophy of water: Politics of the pollution and damming along the Ganges River.

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.
Date: May 2007
Creator: McAnally, Elizabeth Ann

Acting Ethically: Behavior and the Sustainable Society

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.
Date: August 2007
Creator: Sewell, Patrick

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

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 developing idea of sustainability, and are, thus, helping to expand ideas about what it means to be a citizen in a democracy.
Date: August 2007
Creator: Wall, Don

The American Community College's Obligation to Democracy

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.
Date: December 2007
Creator: Pokross, Amy Elizabeth

Between Logos and Eros: New Orleans' Confrontation with Modernity

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.
Date: May 2008
Creator: Moore, Erin Christine

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

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