The most pressing problems facing humanity today - over-population, energy shortages, climate change, soil erosion, species extinctions, the risk of epidemic disease, the threat of warfare that could destroy all the hard-won gains of civilization, and even the recent fibrillations of the stock market - are all ecological or have a large ecological component. in this volume philosophers turn their attention to understanding the science of ecology and its huge implications for the human project. To get the application of (...)ecology to policy or other practical concerns right, humanity needs a clear and disinterested philosophical understanding of ecology which can help identify the practical lessons of science. Conversely, the urgent practical demands humanity faces today cannot help but direct scientific and philosophical investigation toward the basis of those ecological challenges that threaten human survival. This book will help to fuel the timely renaissance of interest in philosophy of ecology that is now occurring in the philosophical profession. Provides a bridge between philosophy and current scientific findings Covers theory and applications Encourages multi-disciplinary dialogue. (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)
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. (shrink)
Ecology, Community and Lifestyle is a revised and expanded translation of Naess' book Okologi, Samfunn og Livsstil, which sets out the author's thinking on the relevance of philosophy to the problems of environmental degradation and the rethinking of the relationship between mankind and nature. The text has been thoroughly updated by Naess and revised and translated by David Rothenberg.
The philosophy of ecology addresses foundational conceptual and methodological issues in ecological science. Specifying these issues is complicated by the fact that there is disagreement among ecologists over how to identify the proper domain of ecology. Many ecologists prefer a more restrictive definition that focuses on properties of nonhuman organisms in natural environments. Others defend a more expansive definition that includes the study of human-environment relations, a view that challenges the traditional conception of ecology as strictly (...) a natural biological science. Consequently, one's understanding of the philosophy of ecology will depend in part on whether one endorses a more restrictive or more expansive conception of ecology. This article reviews issues in the philosophy of ecology in both its restrictive and expansive modes. In its restrictive mode, the philosophy of ecology addresses conceptual and methodological issues in population, community and ecosystem ecology. In its expansive mode, the philosophy of ecology also addresses foundational issues in the human ecological sciences, such as ecological economics and ecological psychology. In this expansive mode the line between ecology-the-science and ecology-the-philosophicalworldview becomes increasingly blurred, but a commitment to scientific methodology prevents ecology from becoming a mere mouthpiece for speculative or radical ecological philosophies. (shrink)
Philosophical interest in ecology is relatively new. Standard texts in the philosophy of biology pay little or no attention to ecology (though Sterelny and Griffiths 1999 is an exception). This is in part because the science of ecology itself is relatively new, but whatever the reasons for the neglect in the past, the situation must change. A good philosophical understanding of ecology is important for a number of reasons. First, ecology is an important and (...) fascinating branch of biology with distinctive philosophical issues that arise from its study. Second, ecology is only one small step away from urgent political, ethical, and management decisions about how best to live in an apparently increasingly-fragile environment. Third, philosophy of ecology, properly conceived, can contribute directly to both our understanding of ecology and help with its advancement. Philosophy of ecology can thus be seen as part of the emerging discipline of “biohumanities”, where biology and humanities disciplines together advance our understanding and knowledge of biology (Stotz and Griffiths forthcoming). In this paper, we focus primarily on this third role of the philosophy of ecology and consider a number of places where philosophy can play an important role in ecology. In the process, we.. (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)
Comprised of essays by top scholars in the field, this volume offers concise overviews of philosophical issues raised by biology. Brings together a team of eminent scholars to explore the philosophical issues raised by biology Addresses traditional and emerging topics, spanning molecular biology and genetics, evolution, developmental biology, immunology, ecology, mind and behaviour, neuroscience, and experimentation Begins with a thorough introduction to the field Goes beyond previous treatments that focused only on evolution to give equal attention to other areas, (...) such as molecular and developmental biology Represents both an authoritative guide to philosophy of biology, and an accessible reference work for anyone seeking to learn about this rapidly-changing field. (shrink)
According to Arne Naess, his environmental philosophy is influenced by the philosophy of language called empirical semantics, which he first developed in the 1930s as a participant in the seminars of the Vienna Circle. While no one denies his claim, most of his commentators defend views about his environmental philosophy that contradict the tenets of his semantics. In particular, they argue that he holds that deep ecology’s supporters share a world view, and that the movement’s platform (...) articulates shared principles. Naess, however, rejects this conception of deep ecology, and, moreover, he is compelled to do so because of his long-standing views on semantics. Naess’s semantics thus poses a particularly difficult problem for the first group of theorists who endorsed Naess. (shrink)
There was a time when ecological problems were of no interest to philosophy. Now, these issues have raised philosophical problems in several areas. In moral philosophy, one question is what moral obligations, if any, we have to future generations, and another is how far we have moral obligations relating to the treatment and the preservation of plants, animals and atmospheres. In political philosophy, the issue is the range of such concepts as rights and justice, and whether or (...) not they are limited to human relationships. As to the metaphysical question, we have to ask whether there is something about human beings which entitles us to consider them as being supernatural and whether we can think of Nature as an entity of which each human being constitutes a part. (shrink)
Niklas Luhmann is widely recognized as one of the most original thinkers in the social sciences today. This major new work further develops the theories of the author by offering a challenging analysis of the relationship between society and the environment. Luhmann extends the concept of "ecology" to refer to any analysis that looks at connections between social systems and the surrounding environment. He traces the development of the notion of "environment" from the medieval idea--which encompasses both human and (...) natural systems--to our modern definition, which separates social systems from the external environment. In Luhmann's thought, human beings form part of the environment, while social systems consist only of communications. Utilizing this distinctive theoretical perspective, Luhmann presents a comprehensive catalog of society's reactions to environmental problems. He investigates the spheres of the economy, law, science, politics, religion, and education to show how these areas relate to environmental issues. Ecological Communication is an important work that critically examines claims central to our society--claims to modernity and rationality. It will be of great importance to scholars and students in sociology, political science, philosophy, anthropology, and law. (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)
You would be hard-pressed to find someone who categorically opposes protecting the environment, yet most people would agree that the environmentalist movement has been ineffectual and even misguided. Some argue that its agenda is misplaced, oppressive, and misanthropic—a precursor to intrusive government, regulatory bungles, and economic stagnation. Others point out that its alarmist rhetoric and preservationist solutions are outdated and insufficient to the task of galvanizing support for true reform. In this impassioned and judicious work, R. Bruce Hull argues that (...) environmentalism will never achieve its goals unless it sheds its fundamentalist logic. The movement is too bound up in polarizing ideologies that pit humans against nature, conservation against development, and government regulation against economic growth. Only when we acknowledge the infinite perspectives on how people should relate to nature will we forge solutions that are respectful to both humanity and the environment. Infinite Nature explores some of these myriad perspectives, from the scientific understandings proffered by anthropology, evolution, and ecology, to the promise of environmental responsibility offered by technology and economics, to the designs of nature envisioned in philosophy, law, and religion. Along the way, Hull maintains that the idea of nature is social: in order to reach the common ground where sustainable and thriving communities are possible, we must accept that many natures can and do exist. Incisive, heartfelt, and brimming with practical solutions, Infinite Nature brings a much-needed and refreshing voice to the table of environmental reform. (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)
There are two competing conceptions of the nature and domain of ecological science in the popular and academic literature, an orthodox conception and a more expansive conception. The orthodox conception conceives ecology as a natural biological science distinct from the human social sciences. The more expansive conception views ecology as a science whose domain properly spans both the natural and social sciences. On the more expansive conception, non-traditional ecological disciplines such as ecological psychology, ecological anthropology and ecological economics (...) may legitimately be regarded as sub-disciplines of ecology, and the practitioners of such disciplines as ecologists. The orthodox-expansionist issue is significant both for the practice of ecology and for the self-identity of the philosophy of ecology. I argue in favour of the expansionist conception of ecology on general conceptual grounds, and by developing the case for one particular non-traditional ecological discipline, ecological psychology. (shrink)
This essay examines and compares two paradigms of technology, nature, and social life, and their associated environmental impacts. I explore moving from technocratic paradigms to the emerging ecological paradigms of planetary person ecosophies. The dominant technocratic philosophy's guiding policy and technological power is mechanistic. It conceptualizes nature as a resource to be controlled for human ends. Its global practices are drastically altering the integrity of the planet's ecosystems. In contrast, the organic, planetary person approaches respect the intrinsic values of (...) all beings. Deep ecology movement principles give priority to community and ecosystem integrity. These deep ecology movement principles guide the design and applications of technology by principles following from ecological understanding. I describe this shift in philosophical paradigms and how it affects our perceptions, values, and actions. (shrink)
There are two competing conceptions of the nature and domain of ecological science in the popular and academic literature, an orthodox conception and a more expansive conception. The orthodox conception conceives ecology as a natural biological science distinct from the human social sciences. The more expansive conception views ecology as a science whose domain properly spans both the natural and social sciences. On the more expansive conception, non-traditional ecological disciplines such as ecological psychology , ecological anthropology and ecological (...) economics may legitimately be regarded as sub-disciplines of ecology, and the practitioners of such disciplines as ecologists. The orthodox-expansionist issue is significant both for the practice of ecology and for the self-identity of the philosophy of ecology. I argue in favour of the expansionist conception of ecology on general conceptual grounds, and by developing the case for one particular non-traditional ecological discipline, ecological psychology. (shrink)
Ambitiously identifying fresh issues in the study of complex systems, Peter J. Taylor, in a model of interdisciplinary exploration, makes these concerns accessible to scholars in the fields of ecology, environmental science, and science studies. Unruly Complexity explores concepts used to deal with complexity in three realms: ecology and socio-environmental change; the collective constitution of knowledge; and the interpretations of science as they influence subsequent research. For each realm Taylor shows that unruly complexity-situations that lack definite boundaries, (...) where what goes on "outside" continually restructures what is "inside," and where diverse processes come together to produce change-should not be suppressed by partitioning complexity into well-bounded systems that can be studied or managed from an outside vantage point. Using case studies from Australia, North America, and Africa, he encourages readers to be troubled by conventional boundaries-especially between science and the interpretation of science-and to reflect more self-consciously on the conceptual and practical choices researchers make. (shrink)
In the first edition of Radical Ecology --the now classic examination major philosophical, ethical, scientific, and economic roots of environmental problems--Carolyn Merchant responded to the profound awareness of environmental crisis which prevailed in the closing decade of the twentieth century. In this provocative and readable study, Merchant examined the ways that radical ecologists can transform science and society in order to sustain life on this planet. Now in this second edition, Merchant continues to emphasize how laws, regulations and scientific (...) research alone cannot reverse the spread of pollution or restore our dwindling resources. Merchant argues that in order to maintain a livable world, we must formulate new social, economic, scientific, and spiritual approaches that will fundamentally transform human relationships with nature. She analyzes the revolutionary ideas of visionary ecologists for a new economy, society, science, and religion, and examines their efforts to bring environmental problems to the attention of the public. This new edition features a new Introduction from the author, a thorough updating of chapters, and two entirely new chapters on recent global movements and globalization and the environment. It is a timely update that will give students everything they need to know on the most recent philosophical positions and social movements that characterize the radical ecology spectrum. (shrink)
Between the body and the breathing earth : on the phenomenology of depth perception -- To praise again : phenomenology and the project of ecopsychology -- Postphenomenology and the lifeworld : interconnections, relationships, and environmental wholes : a phenomenological ecology of natural and built worlds.
- How can anthropology improve our understanding of the interrelationship between nature and culture? - What can anthropology contribute to practical debates which depend on particular definitions of nature, such as that concerning sustainable development? Humankind has evolved over several million years by living in and utilizing 'nature' and by assimilating it into 'culture'. Indeed, the technological and cultural advancement of the species has been widely acknowledged to rest upon human domination and control of nature. Yet, by the 1960s, the (...) idea of culture in confrontation with nature was being challenged by science, philosophy and the environmental movement. Anthropology is increasingly concerned with such issues as they become more urgent for humankind as a whole. This important book reviews the current state of the concepts of 'nature' we use, both as scientific devices and ideological constructs, and is organised around three themes: - nature as a cultural construction; - the cultural management of the environment; and - relations between plants, animals and humans. (shrink)
Ecologists use a remarkable range of methods and techniques to understand complex, inherently variable, and functionally diverse entities and processes across a staggering range of spatial, temporal and interactive scales. These multiple perspectives make ecology very different to the exemplar of science often presented by philosophers. In Philosophical Foundations for the Practices of Ecology, designed for graduate students and researchers, ecology is put into a new philosophical framework that engages with this inherent pluralism while still placing constraints (...) on the ways that we can investigate and understand nature. The authors begin by exploring the sources of variety in the practice of ecology and how these have led to the current conceptual confusion. They argue that the solution is to adopt the approach of constrained perspectivism and go on to explore the ontological, metaphysical, and epistemological aspects of this position and how it can be used in ecological research and teaching. (shrink)
Environment is essentially in the category of culture and environmental research should be based on human value and culture. The study of the relationship between humans and their natural environment should also refer to human relations. Since the operational logic of social capital is the root of ecological crisis, the ultimate solution to this problem lies in human’s correct thinking, institutional, political and behavioral patterns in dealing with nature. Re-establishing human ecology therefore provides a cultural basis for the harmony (...) between human and nature and realistic basis for the psycho-physical harmony and spiritualization of humans. (shrink)
The force of things -- The agency of assemblages -- Edible matter -- A life of metal -- Neither vitalism nor mechanism -- Stem cells and the culture of life -- Political ecologies -- Vitality and self-interest.
This is a much-needed and clearly argued account of what has gone wrong in our thinking about the environment. Written by one of our leading environmental thinkers, it is a compelling exploration of the contemporary ecological crisis, its origins, and the cultural illusions that lie behind it. Val Plumwood argues that historically-traceable distortions of reason and culture have resulted in dangerous forms of ecological denial. They have had a widespread effect in areas as diverse as economics, politics, science, ethics, and (...) spirituality, and appear in the currently dominant form of globalization. Cutting through the "prudence vs. ethics" debate that has stunted environmental philosophy, Plumwood analyzes our ethical and spiritual failures as closely linked to our perceptual and prudential failures to situate ourselves as ecological beings. She argues that in the process, we gain a false idea of our own character and location, including an illusory sense of independence from nature, making us insensitive to ecological limits, dependencies and interconnections. Environmental Culture presents a radically new picture of how our culture must change in order to develop an ecologically rational society. Drawing on a range of ideas from feminism, democracy, globalization and post-colonial thought, it is essential reading for anyone interested in the environment and our place in it. (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)
Manifesto: reoccupying the collective imagination -- Green cultural citizenship -- Negotiating green cultural citizenship -- Media as ideological ecosystems -- Evolving media ecosystems -- Gardening media ecosystems -- Towards mediating an earth democracy.