This book is about the extent, origins and causes of the environmental crisis. Dr Northcott argues that Christianity has lost the biblical awareness of the inter-connectedness of all life. He shows how Christian theologians and believers might recover a more ecologically friendly belief system and life style. The author provides an important corrective to secular approaches to environmental ethics, including utilitarian individualism, animal rights theories and deep ecology. He contends that neither the stewardship tradition, nor the panentheist or (...) process ecological theologies have successfully mobilised the Christian tradition. He demonstrates that the Hebrew Bible contains an ecological message which is close to the traditions of many primal and indigenous peoples and which provides an important corrective to instrumental attitudes to nature in much modern philosophy and Christian ethics. (shrink)
Message from the planet -- When prophecy fails -- Energy and empire -- Climate economics -- Ethical emissions -- Dwelling in the light -- Mobility and pilgrimage -- Faithful feasting -- Remembering in time.
Drawing on the disciplines of Islamic and Christian Ethics, International Affairs, Environmental Science, History and Anthropology, Sustainable Diplomacy: Ecology, Religion and Ethics in Muslim-Christian Relations is a highly constructive work. Set in the context of modern Moroccan-Spanish relations, this text is a direct critique of realism as it is practiced in modern diplomacy. Proposing a new eco-centric approach to relations between nation-states and bioregions, Wellman presents the case for Ecological Realism, an undergirding philosophy for conducting a diplomacy that values (...) the role of popular religions, ecological histories, and the consumption and waste patterns of national populations. Sustainable Diplomacy is thus a means of building relations not only between elites but also between people on the ground, as they together face the real possibility of global ecological destruction. (shrink)
Research in ecology and evolutionary biology (evo-eco) often tries to emulate the “hard” sciences such as physics and chemistry, but to many of its practitioners feels more like the “soft” sciences of psychology and sociology. I argue that this schizophrenic attitude is the result of lack of appreciation of the full consequences of the peculiarity of the evo-eco sciences as lying in between a-historical disciplines such as physics and completely historical ones as like paleontology. Furthermore, evo-eco researchers have gotten (...) stuck on mathematically appealing but philosophi- cally simplistic concepts such as null hypotheses and p-values defined according to the frequentist approach in statistics, with the consequence of having been unable to fully embrace the complexity and subtlety of the problems with which ecologists and evolutionary biologists deal with. I review and discuss some literature in ecology, philosophy of science and psychology to show that a more critical methodological attitude can be liberating for the evo-eco scientist and can lead to a more fecund and enjoyable practice of ecology and evolutionary biology. With this aim, I briefly cover concepts such as the method of multiple hypotheses, Bayesian analysis, and strong inference. (shrink)
Presents a provocatively anthropocentric analysis of the way forward for green politics and environmental movements, exposing the deficiencies and contradictions of green approaches to post-modern politics and deep ecology. This title available in eBook format. Click here for more information . Visit our eBookstore at: www.ebookstore.tandf.co.uk.
Considers that in ecosystem, landscape and global ecology, an energetics reading of ecological systems is an expression of a cybernetic, systemic and holistic approach. In ecosystem ecology, the Odumian paradigm emphasizes the concept of emergence, but it has not been accompanied by the creation of a method that fully respects the complexity of the objects studied. In landscape ecology, although the emergentist, multi-level, triadic methodology of J.K. Feibleman and D.T. Campbell has gained acceptance, the importance of emergent (...) properties is still undervalued. In global ecology, the Gaia hypothesis is an expression of an organicist metaphor, while the emergentist terminology used is incongruent with the underlying physicalist cybernetics. More generally, an analytico-additional methodology and the reduction of the properties of ecosystems to the laws of physical chemistry render purely formal any assertion about the emergentist and holistic nature of the ecological systems studied. (shrink)
I claim that the balance of nature metaphoris shorthand for a paradigmatic view of natureas a beneficent force. I trace the historicalorigins of this concept and demonstrate that itoperates today in the discipline of populationecology. Although it might be suspected thatthis metaphor is a pre-theoretic description ofthe more precisely defined notion ofequilibrium, I demonstrate that balance ofnature has constricted the meaning ofmathematical equilibrium in population ecology.As well as influencing the meaning ofequilibrium, the metaphor has also loaded themathematical term with (...) values.Environmentalists and critics use thisconflation of meaning and value to theiradvantage. This interplay between the balanceof nature and equilibrium fits aninteractionist interpretation of the role ofmetaphor in science. However, it seems theinteraction is asymmetric, and the balance ofnature metaphor has had a larger influence onmathematical equilibrium than vice versa. Thisdisproportionate influence suggests that themetaphor was and continues to be a constitutivepart of ecological theories. (shrink)
I am not a pantheist and I don’t believe that pantheism is consistent with Christianity. My preferred speculation is what I call the Swiss Cheese theory: we and our artefacts are the holes in God, the only Godless parts of reality. In this paper, I begin by considering a world rather like ours but without any beings capable of sin. Ignoring extraterrestrials and angels we could consider the world, say, 5 million years ago. Pantheism was, I say, true at (...) that time. That is my qualified endorsement of pantheism. I then use the Sin premise, namely that we are capable of sinning, to argue that beings like us are not parts of God and I examine some consequences. (shrink)
Ecologists attempt to understand the diversity of life with mathematical models. Often, mathematical models contain simplifying idealizations designed to cope with the blooming, buzzing confusion of the natural world. This strategy frequently issues in models whose predictions are inaccurate. Critics of theoretical ecology argue that only predictively accurate models are successful and contribute to the applied work of conservation biologists. Hence, they think that much of the mathematical work of ecologists is poor science. Against this view, I argue that (...) model building is successful even when models are predictively inaccurate for at least three reasons: models allow scientists to explore the possible behaviors of ecological systems; models give scientists simplified means by which they can investigate more complex systems by determining how the more complex system deviates from the simpler model; and models give scientists conceptual frameworks through which they can conduct experiments and fieldwork. Critics often mistake the purposes of model building, and once we recognize this, we can see their complaints are unjustified. Even though models in ecology are not always accurate in their assumptions and predictions, they still contribute to successful science. (shrink)
Cognitive ecology is the study of cognitive phenomena in context. In particular, it points to the web of mutual dependence among the elements of a cognitive ecosystem. At least three fields were taking a deeply ecological approach to cognition 30 years ago: Gibson’s ecological psychology, Bateson’s ecology of mind, and Soviet cultural-historical activity theory. The ideas developed in those projects have now found a place in modern views of embodied, situated, distributed cognition. As cognitive theory continues to shift (...) from units of analysis defined by inherent properties of the elements to units defined in terms of dynamic patterns of correlation across elements, the study of cognitive ecosystems will become an increasingly important part of cognitive science. (shrink)
This book is the first examination in almost a decade of issues in the philosophy of ecology that have been a source of controversy since the existence of ecology as an explicit scientific discipline. The controversies revolve around the idea of a balance of nature, the possibility of general ecological knowledge and the role of model-building in ecology. The Science of the Struggle for Existence is also the first sustained treatment of these issues that incorporates both a (...) comprehensive investigation of the relevant ecological literature and the development of an explicit theoretical framework in the philosophy of science. It addresses issues in the philosophy of ecology that are of particular importance for the deployment of ecology in the solution of environmental problems. It will have a cross-disciplinary appeal and will interest students and professionals in science, the philosophy of science, environmental studies as well as policy-makers. (shrink)
Although modern societies have come to recognize diversity in human sexuality as simply part of nature, many Christian communities and thinkers still have considerable difficulties with related developments in politics, legislation, and science. In fact, homosexuality is a recurrent topic in the transdisciplinary encounter between Christianity and the sciences, an encounter that is otherwise rather “asexual.” I propose that the recent emergence of “Christianity and Science” as an academic field in its own right is an important part of (...) the larger context of the difficulties related to attempts to reconcile Christianity and a recognition of diversity in human sexuality as a norm. Through a critical discussion of arguments which are upheld most disturbingly on a global scale by the Roman Catholic Church and supported with much sophistry by important stakeholders of an influential stream in analytic philosophy of religion, this paper aims to contextualize and defend the legitimacy of the question why God would create homosexuals as such if it is true that every homosexual act is prohibited by God. While recently advanced nonheterosexist scientific models of sexuality in nature inform the discussion, I reject the simplistic view that religions suppress and the sciences liberate in matters sexual. (shrink)
There is a long history of controversy in ecology over the role of competition in determining patterns of distribution and abundance, and over the significance of the mathematical modeling of competitive interactions. This paper examines the controversy. Three kinds of considerations have been involved at one time or another during the history of this debate. There has been dispute about the kinds of regularities ecologists can expect to find, about the significance of evolutionary considerations for ecological inquiry, and about (...) the empirical credentials of theoretical studies of competition. Each of these elements is examined with an eye toward gaining philosophical clarification of the issues involved. In the process, certain shortcomings of contemporary philosophical theories are revealed. In particular, I argue that plausibility arguments based on background considerations are an important part of the model building tradition, but that current accounts of the structure and evaluation of scientific theories do little to illuminate this side of theoretical ecology. (shrink)
The Struggle for Nature outlines and examines the main aspects of current environmental philosophy including deep ecology, social and political ecology, eco-feminism and eco-anarchism. It criticizes the dependency on science of these philosophies and the social problems engendered by them. Jozef Keulartz argues for a post-naturalistic turn in environmental philosophy. The Struggle for Nature presents the most up-to-date arguments in environmental philosophy, which will be valuable reading for anyone interested in applied philosophy, environmental studies or geography.
In Intimations of Christianity Among the Ancient Greeks , Simone Weil discusses precursors to Christian religious ideas which can be found in ancient Greek mythology, literature and philosophy. She looks at evidence of "Christian" feelings in Greek literature, notably in Electra, Orestes, and Antigone , and in the Iliad , going on to examine God in Plato, and divine love in creation, as seen by the ancient Greeks.
The standard mathematical models in population ecology assume that a population's growth rate is a function of its environment. In this paper we investigate an alternative proposal according to which the rate of change of the growth rate is a function of the environment and of environmental change. We focus on the philosophical issues involved in such a fundamental shift in theoretical assumptions, as well as on the explanations the two theories offer for some (...) of the key data such as cyclic populations. We also discuss the relationship between this move in population ecology and a similar move from first-order to second-order differential equations championed by Galileo and Newton in celestial mechanics. (shrink)
Ecology has had a lower profile in Biology & Philosophy than one might expect on the basis of the attention ecology is given in public discussions in relation to environmental issues. Our tentative explanation is that ecology appears theoretically redundant within biology and, consequently, philosophically challenging problemsrelated to biology are commonly supposed to be somewhere else, particularly in the molecular sphere. Richard Levins has recognized the genuine challenges posed by ecology for theoretical and philosophical thinking in (...) biology. This essay sets the stage for appreciating his work; it was preceded by four articles published in Biology & Philosophy 15(2),and is followed by a personal reminiscent. (shrink)
The status of population genetics has become hotly debated among biologists and philosophers of biology. Many seem to view population genetics as relatively unchanged since the Modern Synthesis and have argued that subjects such as development were left out of the Synthesis. Some have called for an extended evolutionary synthesis or for recognizing the insignificance of population genetics. Yet others such as Michael Lynch have defended population genetics, declaring "nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of population genetics" (...) (a twist on Dobzhansky's famous slogan that "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution"). Missing from this discussion is the use of population genetics to shed light on ecology and vice versa, beginning in the 1940s and continuing until the present day. I highlight some of that history through an overview of traditions such as ecological genetics and population biology, followed by a slightly more in-depth look at a contemporary study of the endangered California Tiger Salamander. I argue that population genetics is a powerful and useful tool that continues to be used and modified, even if it isn't required for all evolutionary explanations or doesn't incorporate all the causal factors of evolution. (shrink)
Christians and Marxists have co-operated in various forms of political work in recent decades, and, after earlier years of antagonism, thinkers on both sides have come to take the other seriously. The aim of this book is to get Christianity and Marxism to meet on terrain on which they might seem most opposed: their philosophical positions; and to do so without watering either down, but taking then full strength.
If Panentheism’s core thesis, that God is in the world, is to animate a spiritual approach to life, then we have to account for the way in which God is in the destructive or thanative dimensions of life. From the perspective of evolutionary ecology the universe is imbued with creative and destructive energies. The creative drive can be termed eros as creation occurs through the expansion of relational unities, holons. The destructive drive is termed thanatos and is the drive (...) to sever connection. An argument is developed from the perspective of evolutionary ecology to show how thanatos serves eros, serves the evolutionary unfolding of higher orders of communion. I suggest there are healthy and pathological expressions of the thanative drive. God within the thanative invites us to embrace the transformative potentials of suffering by integrating thanatos-in-eros. God as eros invites us to develop expanded modes of connection, inter-subjectivity and communion. (shrink)
What is the optimal political framework for environmental reform reform on a scale commensurate with the global ecological crisis? In particular, how adequate are liberal forms of parliamentary democracy to the challenge posed by this crisis? These are the questions pondered by the contributors to this volume. Exploration of the possibilities of democracy gives rise to certain common themes. These are the relation between ecological morality and political structures or procedures and the question of the structure of decision-making and distribution (...) of information in political systems. The idea of 'democracy without traditional boundaries' is discussed as a key both to environmentalism in an age of global ecology and to the revitalisation of democracy itself in a world of increasingly protean constituencies and mutable boundaries. (shrink)
A part of the “return to religion” now evident in European philosophy, this book represents the culmination of the career of a leading phenomenological thinker whose earlier works trace a trajectory from Marx through a genealogy of psychoanalysis that interprets Descartes’s “I think, I am” as “I feel myself thinking, I am.” In this book, Henry does not ask whether Christianity is “true” or “false.” Rather, what is in question here is what Christianity considers as truth, what kind (...) of truth it offers to people, what it endeavors to communicate to them, not as a theoretical and indifferent truth, but as the essential truth that by some mysterious affinity is suitable for them, to the point that it alone is capable of ensuring them salvation. In the process, Henry inevitably argues against the concept of truth that dominates modern thought and determines, in its multiple implications, the world in which we live. Henry argues that Christ undoes “the truth of the world,” that He is an access to the infinity of self-love, to a radical subjectivity that admits no outside, to the immanence of affective life found beyond the despair fatally attached to all objectifying thought. The Kingdom of God accomplishes itself in the here and now through the love of Christ in what Henry calls “the auto-affection of Life.” In this condition, he argues, all problems of lack, ambivalence, and false projection are resolved. (shrink)
As conservation biology has developed as a distinct discipline from ecology, conservation guidelines based on ecological theory have been largely cast aside in favor of theory-independent decision procedures for designing conservation reserves. I argue that this transition has failed to advance the field toward its aim of preserving biodiversity. The abandonment of island biogeography theory in favor of complementarity-based algorithms is a case in point. In what follows, I consider the four central objections raised against island biogeographic conservation guidelines, (...) arguing that they fail to undermine the credibility of this framework as a conservation tool. At best, these objections call for a more careful application of this framework to conservation problems, not its wholesale abandonment. At the same time, complementarily-based algorithms are biased in favor of networks of small reserves containing non-overlapping species. These conditions threaten to promote inbreeding depression, genetic drift and other factors that increase a population’s risk of extinction. Therefore, recent developments in the field of conservation biology have arguably not contributed to its ultimate aim of preserving the maximum amount of biodiversity in the long run. (shrink)
Abstract - Evolutionary, ecological and ethical studies are, at the same time, specific scientific disciplines and, from an historical point of view, structurally linked domains of research. In a context of environmental crisis, the need is increasingly emerging for a connecting epistemological framework able to express a common or convergent tendency of thought and practice aimed at building, among other things, an environmental policy management respectful of the planet’s biodiversity and its evolutionary potential. -/- Evolutionary biology, ecology and ethics: (...) at first glance, three different objects of research, three different worldviews and three different scientific communities. In reality, there are both structural and historical links between these disciplines. First, some topics are obviously common across the board. Second, the emerging need for environmental policy management has gradually but radically changed the relationship between these disciplines. Over the last decades in particular, there has emerged a need for an interconnecting meta-paradigm that integrates more strictly evolutionary studies, biodiversity studies and the ethical frameworks that are most appropriate for allowing a lasting co-evolution between natural and social systems. Today such a need is more than a mere luxury, it is an epistemological and practical necessity. -/- In short, the authors of this volume address some of the foundational themes that interconnect evolutionary studies, ecology and ethics. Here they have chosen to analyze a topic using one of these specific disciplines as a kind of epistemological platform with specific links to topics from one or both of the remaining disciplines. Michael Ruse’s chapter, for instance, elucidates some of the structural links between Darwinismand ethics. Ruse analyzes the Evolutionism vs. Creationism debate, emphasizing the risks run by scientists when they ideologize the scientific content of their studies. In the case of the contributions of Jean Gayon and Jean-Marc Drouin, which respectively deal with the disciplines of evolutionary biology and ecology, some central connections have been developed between these two disciplines, while reserving the option to consider in detail their topic in order to discover essential features ormeanings. Gayon analyzes the multilayered meanings of “chance” in evolutionary studies and the methodological implications that accompany such disparatemeanings. Froma similar analytical perspective, Drouin’s contribution focuses on the identification and critical evaluation of the different conceptions of time in ecology. Chance and time, factors of evolution in species and ecological systems, play a very important function in both disciplines, and these chapters help to capture their polysemous structure and development. Bryan Norton’s chapter, on adaptive environmental management, is set within an epistemological context where the Darwinian paradigm, ecological knowledge and ethical frameworks meet to give rise to practical, conservationist policies. In his contribution, Patrick Blandin pleads for the necessity of an eco-evolutionary ethics capable of fully encompassing humanity’s responsibility in the future determination of the biosphere’s evolutionary paths. Our value systems must recognize the predominant place that humanity has taken in the evolutionary history of the planet, and integrate the ethical ramifications of scientific advances in evolutionary and ecological studies. The chapter by J. Baird Callicott introduces us to a metaphorical ecological reversion with direct consequences for our moral conduct. If ecology showed that ecosystems are not organisms, recognizing organisms as a kind of ecosystem could be the basis for a new post-modern ecological ethics that lays the foundation for a better moral integration of humans with the environment. The contributions of Robin Attfield and Tom Regan delve into some of the classical issues in environmental ethics, situating them within a broader ecological and evolutionary context. Attfield’s chapter tackles the confrontation between individualistic and ecologically holistic perspectives, their different approaches to the issue of intrinsic value, and their tangled relation to monism and pluralism. Regan’s contribution ponders the criteria that allow individual beings, human and non-human, to own moral rights, the role of the struggle for existence in the relationship between species, and the logical difficulties involved in attributing intrinsic value to collective entities (species, ecosystems). Catherine Larrère’s chapter discusses the opposition between two environmental and ethical worldviews with very different philosophical centers of gravity: nature and technology. These opposing perspectives have direct consequences not only for the perception of the problems at hand and for what entities are deemed morally significant, but also for the proposed solutions. -/- To set out some foundational events in the history of evolutionary biology, ecology and environmental ethics is a first necessary step towards a clarification of their major epistemological orientations. On the basis of this inevitably nonexhaustive history, it will be possible to better position the work of the different contributors, and to build a meta-paradigm, i.e. a connecting epistemological framework resulting from one common or convergent tendency of thought and practice shared by different disciplines. (shrink)
When data are limited, simple models of complex ecological systems tend to wind up closer to the truth than more complex models of the same systems. This greater proximity to the truth, or verisimilitude, leads to greater predictive success. When more data are available, the advantage of simplicity decreases, and more complex models may gain the upper hand. In ecology, holistic models are usually simpler than reductionistic models. Thus, when data are limited, holistic models have an advantage over reductionistic (...) models, with respect to verisimilitude and predictive success. I illustrate these points with models designed to explain and predict the numbers of species on islands. (shrink)
Scientific misconduct obstructs the advance of knowledge in science. Its impact in some disciplines is still poorly known, as is the frequency in which it is detected. Here, I examine how frequently editors of ecology and evolution journals detect scientist misconduct. On average, editors managed 0.114 allegations of misconduct per year. Editors considered 6 of 14 allegations (42.9%) to be true, but only in 2 cases were the authors declared guilty, the remaining being dropped for lack of proof. The (...) annual rate of allegations that were probably warranted was 0.053, although the rate of demonstrated misconduct was 0.018, while the rate of false or erroneous allegations was 0.024. Considering that several cases of misconduct are probably not reported, these findings suggest that editors detect less than one-third of all fraudulent papers. (shrink)
Common experiences of mothering offer profound critiques of maternal ethical norms found in both Christianity and Islam. The familiar responsibilities of caring for children, assumed by the majority of Christian and Muslim women, provide the basis for reassessing sacrificial and selfless love, protesting unjust religious and political systems, and dismantling romanticized notions of childcare. As a distinctive category of women's experience, motherhood may offer valuable perspectives necessary for remedying injustices that afflict mothers and children in particular, as well as (...) for developing cross-cultural understandings of justice in general. (shrink)
The distinction between the context ofdiscovery and the context of justificationrestricts philosophy of science to the rationalreconstruction of theories, and characterizesscientific discovery as rare, theoreticalupheavals that defy rational reconstruction. Kuhnian challenges to the two contextsdistinction show that non-rational elementspersist in the justification of theories, butgo no further to provide a positive account ofdiscovery. A gradualist theory of discoverydeveloped in this paper shows, with supportfrom ecological cases, that discoveries areroutinely made in ecology by extending modelsto new domains, or by making (...) additions toearlier models. The logic of discovery isphilosophically accessible once it isappreciated that model truth is presumed, evenif counterfactually, in ecologists' applicationof models. A gradualist view shows thatmodels' heuristic power routinely leads todiscoveries. (shrink)
A RECENT BIOGRAPHY of Marcus Loane, evangelical Anglican Archbishop of Sydney in the 1960s, records that as a student at Moore Theological College he would read during lectures to avoid having to listen to the liberal Principal. When you are committed to a closed system of thought, you can't be too careful when it comes to letting ideas in from the outside. But what about the ideas already inside? How does the Sydney Anglican interpretation of Christianity compare to what (...) Jesus said? (shrink)
In this volume, the authors discuss what practical contributions ecology can and can't make in applied science and environmental problem solving. In the first section, they discuss conceptual problems that have often prevented the formulation and evaluation of powerful, precise, general theories, explain why island biogeography is still beset with controversy and examine the ways that science is value laden. In the second section, they describe how ecology can give us specific answers to practical environmental questions posed in (...) individual case studies, and argue for a new way to look at scientific error. A case study using the Florida panther is examined in the light of these findings. (shrink)
Here I explore the aesthetic implications of this new paradigm, the central implication being that scientific cognitivism, when combined with the new paradigm in ecology, may require updating the qualities associated with positive aesthetics. After reviewing Allen Carlson's defense of both scientific cognitivism and the positive aesthetics thesis, I show how the significantly different conceptual framework that the new paradigm in ecology provides will require equally significant adjustments to how we aesthetically appreciate nature. I make two suggestions. First, (...) the new paradigm in ecology suggests that aesthetic appreciation should focus on natural processes, which will require a more theoretical approach to aesthetic appreciation. Second, because the new paradigm appeals to aesthetic qualities such as imbalance, disorder, and disharmony to make the natural world intelligible, these qualities are consistent with an updated positive aesthetics thesis and should therefore replace the qualities associated with the old paradigm. Collectively, these two suggestions imply that the beauty of nature is dynamic and chaotic rather than stable and orderly. (shrink)
Ecology has often been characterized as an immature scientific discipline. This paper explores some of the sources of this alleged immaturity. I argue that the perception of immaturity results primarily from the fact that historically ecologists have based their work upon two very different approaches to research.
This collection is drawn from a recent Global Political conference held to mark the centenary of the birth of Harold Innis, Canada's most important political economist. Throughout his life, Innis was concerned with topics which remain central to political ecology today, such as the link between culture and nature, the impact of humanity on the environment and the role of technology and communications. In this volume, the contributors address environmental issues which Innes was concerened with, from a contemporary, political (...) economy perspective. They explore a wide range of themes and issues including: sustainability; risk and regulation; population growth; and planetary management. Case studies provide further insight into issues such as industrial racism, women and development and collective action. (shrink)