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)
Most cognitive theories agree that a listener of a sports broadcast on radio usually imagines the scene described; the concept `mental image' appears in a specific sort of explanations. In contrast to this conception, it is argued that this concept should rather be understood as part of a certain kind of grounding explanations of the radio listener's understanding. This particular conception is based on the distinction between `specification' and `implementation' as found in the theory of abstract data types. (...) Its application to the field of spatial concepts leads to a computational system (ANTLIMA) which exemplifies how the expression `mental image' could be used while explaining a speaker's ability to control the resolvability of ambiguities in an objective report of what the speaker sees. (shrink)
The use of genetically modified plants in agriculture (GM crops) is controversially discussed in academic publications. Important issues are whether the release of GM crops is beneficial or harmful for the environment and therefore acceptable, and whether the modification of plants is ethically permissible per se . This study provides a comprehensive overview of the moral reasoning on the use of GM crops expressed in academic publications from 1975 to 2008. Environmental ethical aspects in the publications were investigated. Overall, 113 (...) articles from 15 ecology, environmental ethics, and multidisciplinary science journals were systematically reviewed. Three types of moral concerns were used to structure the normative statements, moral notions, and moral issues found in the articles: concerns addressing consequences of the use of GM crops, concerns addressing the act (the technique itself), and concerns addressing the virtues of an actor. Articles addressing consequences (84%) dealt with general ecological and risk concerns or discussed specific ecological issues about the use of GM crops. Articles addressing the act (57%) dealt with the value of naturalness, the value of biotic entities, and conceptual reductionism, whereas articles addressing the actor (43%) dealt with virtues related to the handling of risks and the application of GM crops. The results of this study may help to structure the academic debate and contribute to a better understanding of moral concerns that are associated with the key aspects of the ethical theories of consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics. (shrink)
Joseph D. Anderson & Barbara Fisher Anderson Moving Image Theory: Ecological ConsiderationsCarbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.ISBN 0 8093 2599 3253pp.Pat Brereton Hollywood Utopia: Ecology in Contemporary American CinemaBristol: Intellect.ISBN 1 84150117 4270pp.
I examine Fox’s tripartite characterization of deep ecology. His assessment abandons Naess’s emphasis upon the pluralism of ultimate norms by distilling what I refer to as the deep ecology approach to “Self-realization!” Contrary to Fox, I argue that his popular sense is distinctive and his formal sense is tenable. Fox’s philosophical sense, while distinctive, is neither necessary nor sufficient to adequately characterize the deep ecology approach. I contend that the deep ecology approach, as a formal approach (...) to environmental philosophy, is not dependent upon and embodies much more than any single ultimate norm. I discuss how Naess’s deep ecology approach supports a wide diversity of ultimate norms. The only stipulation placed upon ultimate norms, to make them deep ecological ultimate norms, is that the so called deep ecology platform be derivable from them. The deep ecology approach is distinguished, in part, through its focus on diminishing environmentally degrading practices and policies by addressing root causes and by highlighting pseudo-conflicts. I present an interpretation of the deep ecology approach that hightlights Naess’s emphasis upon assisting individuals to arrive at thoroughly reasoned, consistent, and ecologically sound concrete decisions by supporting them in the articulation of their own personal ecological total views (ecosophies). (shrink)
It is common to hear that deep ecology “has reached its logical conclusion and exhausted itself” in a vacuous anthropomorphism and absurd nonanthropocentrism. These conclusions should be rejected. Properly understood, neither objection poses a serious problem for deep ecology so much as for the ethic of “ecological holism” which some philosophers—wrongly—have taken to arise from deep ecology. Deep ecology is not such an ethic, but is best understood as an aesthetically articulated conception of what, following Robinson (...) Jeffers, may be called “Wild Mind,” and such a Wild Mind is characterized—not criticized and condemned—by just that anthropomorphism and nonanthropocentrism critics focus on when they attack the ethic of ecological holism. (shrink)
Since 9/11, Islamophobia has been gaining the attention of scholars, and, increasingly, it is perceived to be an integral part of the emerging zeitgeist of the 21st century. However, the term itself is much debated and little consensus exists as to what it means. Using data drawn from political debate on talk radio between Nick Griffin, Chairman of the British National Party, and Abdul, a Muslim from Manchester and membership categorisation analysis as a methodology, this paper aims to reveal (...) the category-work by which Islamophobia is achieved as a members’ accomplishment. Findings indicate that two versions of Islamophobia are talked into being. On the one hand, Griffin “does” Islamophobia through the operation of an adversarial standard relational pair Islam/west which operates within a membership categorisation device “worlds”, and so he achieves exclusion through cultural incompatibility. On the other hand, Abdul uses the membership categorisation device “race” within which the adversarial standard relational pair Muslim/asian-white British is operative, and so he ascribes overt racist attitudes to Islamophobes. (shrink)
We find ourselves today on the threshold of the creation of a new science, said M. I. Budyko. It could be called global ecology. The content of this science is the treatment of those global problems discussed in the papers we have heard here.
El objetivo principal de este artículo se encuentra orientado a elucidar, desde una perspectiva histórica, cierta influencia que la problemática ambiental tuvo sobre la ecología disciplinar. Para ello, se analizó el periodo que va de la década de 1960 hasta la actualidad. Dos resultados centrales se desprendieron del análisis propuesto y ambos se encontraron mediados por un saber ambiental que emergió junto a la problemática ambiental. El primero, constata una serie de transformaciones fenomenológicas (con el establecimiento de nuevos patrones ecológicos), (...) epistemológicas (con la incorporación de la noción de escala y de la teoría jerárquica) y metodológicas (con la consolidación de los experimentos de mensuración) sobre la matriz de la ecología. El segundo, se vinculó con una continuidad sincrónica entre la problemática ambiental y la ecología disciplinar. Continuidad rastreada por el reconocimiento de una problemática ambiental de orden global. The main objective of this article is to elucidate, from a historical perspective, the influence that environmental issues have had on the discipline of ecology. To this end, the period from the 1960s to the present was examined. The proposed analysis revealed two main results; both were found to be mediated by environmental knowledge that emerged along with environmental issues. The first refers to a series of phenomenological (establishing new ecological patterns), epistemological (incorporating the notion of scale and hierarchical theory) and methodological (consolidating of experiments involving measurements) transformations over the ecology matrix. The second was linked with a synchronic continuity between environmental issues and the discipline of ecology. This continuity was traced by the recognition that environmental issues have global impact. (shrink)
On the Verge of a Planetary Civilization: A Philosophy of Integral Ecology draws on the work of Gilles Deleuze, and his contemporaries and successors, in order to explore the ecological problems facing our globally interconnected civilization.
This paper examines the attempt to bring together feminist and ecological concerns in the work of Isaac Balbus and Ynestra King, two thinkers who place the problem of the domination of nature at the center of contemporary liberation struggles. Through a consideration of the abortion issue (which foregrounds the relation between nature and history, and the problem of their "reconciliation") I argue against what I call their abstract pro-nature stance.
Faced with at least two major challenges, namely, worldwide poverty and inequalities, and ecological changes, our world is confronted with the issue of balancing the concern for the social needs of the present generation, as an expression of intragenerational responsibilities, with the care for the environment for future generations, as fulfilling intergenerational responsibilities. After demonstrating how the philosophical debate indeed validates the notion of intergenerational responsibilities, this article seeks to investigate the relationship between inter- and intragenerational responsibilities. Whereas this relationship (...) is often considered as a troubled and conflicting one, I aim to show that there are reasons to link the problems of global justice and ecological degradation. It will be argued that both global inequality and the ecological crisis are moral problems caused by a particular kind of development philosophy and lifestyle. Consequently, people have a responsibility to take these social and ecological issues into account in their daily lives. In the last section, some theological reflections are provided with regard to the idea of intergenerational responsibilities, their relationship to intragenerational responsibilities, and the contribution of theology as an inspirational source for change. (shrink)
This paper introduces the important concept of a biophysical perspective on economics into the business ethics literature. The biophysical perspective recognizes that ecological processes determine what can be done in an economy and how best to do it. A biophysical perspective places the economic system into a larger context of the ecologic system. This changes the perception of ethical issues by identifying a larger scope of management decisions. The paper examines the changing ethical landscape in such issues as biotechnology, planned (...) obsolescence, productivity, and international trade. The paper also examines the shift in mindset associated with the shift in economic framework. It draws on the literature on cognitive structures and moral imagination to show this new perspective can actually raise the bar for ethical decision-making and behavior. The pattern is that the ethical behavior associated with a biophysical economic framework has a greater scope of responsibility with the benefit that the required ethical behavior leads to better long-term decision making. (shrink)
This book is a sustained examination of issues in the philosophy of ecology that have been a source of controversy since the emergence 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 a detailed 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, and environmental studies as well as policy-makers. (shrink)
In 1974, John Maynard Smith wrote in his little book Models in Ecology, A theory of ecology must make statements about ecosystems as a whole, as well as about particular species at particular times, and it must make statements that are true for many species and not just for one… For the discovery of general ideas in ecology, therefore, different kinds of mathematical description, which may be called models, are called for. Whereas a good simulation should include (...) as much detail as possible, a good model should include as little as possible. (1974. (shrink)
Taking as his starting-point the emerging scientific view of the universe as a free, unpredictable, self-ordering evolutionary process in which human cultural history plays a leading part, Turner (arts and humanities, U. of Texas at Dallas) ...
The South African ecologist and political activist Edward Roux used evolutionary biology to argue against racism. During the cold-war, he transformed his communist beliefs into advocacy for scientific rationalism, management, and protection of nature against advancing capitalism. These pleas for saving the environment served as a vehicle for questioning the more risky issue of evolution and racial order in society. The link between ecological and political order had long been an important theme among the country's ecologists and politicians alike. The (...) statesman Jan Christian Smuts' holistic theory of evolution and racial order inspired the nation's ecologists to sanctify an ecologically informed racial policy. This idealist informed methodology stood in direct opposition to the materialist approach to ecology of Roux. These methodological debates reflected differing political support from within the Union Party and people on the radical left, respectively. Ecology was of concern to politicians because understandings of the order of nature had direct implications for the racial order of the South African society. (shrink)
If one investigates a process that has several causes but assumes that it has only one cause, one risks ruling out important causal factors. Three mechanisms account for this mistake: either the significance of the single cause under test is masked by noise contributed by the unsuspected and uncontrolled factors, or the process appears only when two or more causes interact, or the process appears when there are present any of a number of sufficient causes which are not mutally exclusive. (...) In ecology and evolutionary biology, experiments usually test single factor hypotheses, and many scientists apparently believe that hypotheses incorporating several factors are so much more difficult to test that to do so would not be practical. We discuss several areas in ecology and evolutionary biology in which the presupposition of simple causation has apparently impeded progress. We also examine a more mature field, the study of atherosclerosis, in which single factor studies did significantly delay progress towards understanding what now appears to be a multifactor process. The problem has three solutions: either factorial experiments, dynamic models that make quantitative predictions, response-surface methods, or all three. In choosing a definition for ‘cause’, we make a presupposition that profoundly influences subsequent observations and experimental designs. Alternative definitions of causation should be considered as contributing to potential cures for research problems. (shrink)
Capturing information means for every organism acquiring knowledge about the living and not living objects that exist in its surroundings. In this way, the “historical” concept of Umwelt, as a subjective surrounding has been recently integrated in the theory of landscape ecology where a landscape is not only a geographical entity but also a cognitive medium. The landscape may be considered a semiotic context used by the organisms to locate resources heterogeneously distributed in space and time. In particular, inside (...) a landscape there are different eco-fields defined as spatial arrangements of objects carrier of meaning that organisms utilize to track resources. Along this epistemic path the sonic component of the landscape is an important carrier of information commonly used by the majority of animal species to managing many vital functions. In particular birds, which are animals with a complex system of acoustic communication, seem to organize acoustic centers for public information. These sonic patterns (soundtopes) are characterized by a great variability in space and time and function like a special eco-field that allows species to share information about the status of resources and the dynamics of populations. The availability of such public information avoids a deeper and more expensive exploration of the environment to assess its quality. (shrink)
Bruno Latour’s work, today becoming increasingly influential in philosophical circles, represents a clear challenge to prevailing philosophical accounts of the relation between human subjectivity and the natural world. The ‘political ecology’ which Latour sets out in works such as We Have Never Been Modern and more extensively in The Politics of Nature is a call to arms to rethink concepts of nature taken for granted ever since the time of Kant. Yet despite its apparent novelty, and despite its apparent (...) break with post-Kantian continental philosophy, Latour’s thinking often unwittingly reworks philosophical moves made within that tradition, even during Kant’s lifetime, specifically in the movement known as Naturphilosophie. Bringing to light the elective affinities between Latour’s ideas and those of Naturphilosophie, this article suggests that the former unconsciously rehearses key tenets of the latter, in particular the claims made by Schelling against Kant. Moreover, Latour will be seen to succumb to the problems which a subsequent developer of Naturphilosophie—Hegel—would identify in Schelling’s own conception of nature. Finally, whilst Latour offers an apparently compelling alternative to notions of subject and object, free-will and mechanism, along with the conceptual separation of humans from the natural world, his thought often fails to achieve the genuine critique that would be adequate to comprehending these oppositions, and to explaining the ecological crisis in which both humans and nonhumans are caught up. (shrink)
This paper aims to reconstruct the history of the first transatlantic wireless telegraphy on the basis of J. A. Fleming's unpublished notebooks and other manuscript sources. It will be shown that the progress of the experiment, in which power engineering was first combined with wireless telegraphy, was neither smooth nor automatic, and various kinds of difficulties or ‘resistances’ that Fleming and Marconi encountered during the course of the experiments in the laboratory and in the field at Poldhu will be emphasized. (...) This paper also aims to compare two different ‘styles’ of engineering. Fleming, whose educational background included Cambridge experimental physics, based his approach upon scientific engineering—that is, laboratory experiments, precise measurement, and mathematical considerations, whereas Marconi's work derived from an older style of doing technology—that is, field experiments, handicraft work, and an intuitive understanding of technological effects. These two different styles clashed in the experiment, and it will be shown that this tension became apparent when credit for a project's success was being assigned. (shrink)
While neither Hegel nor Marx can be called “ecologists” in any strict sense of the term, they both present views of the human-nature relationship which offer important insights for contemporary debates in philosophical ecology. Further, while Marx and Engels began a tradition of sharply distinguishing their own views of nature from those of Hegel, careful examination reveals a substantial commonality of sentiment. The essay compares Hegel and Marx (and Engels) in terms of their basic conceptions of nature, their critiques (...) of Romanitic nature-worship, their notions of how a meaningful unity with nature requires the act of socially transforming nature, their respective calls for a new science of nature, and their attitudes towards technology. I argue that we can uncover a largely shared humanistic orientation toward nature, and I situate this view within contemporary debates about the anthropocentric or non-anthropocentric foundation of ecological thinking. (shrink)
This paper offers a reading of Heidegger''s 1931 lectures on Aristotle''s Metaphysics, Theta 1-3 that relates that discussion to Heidegger''s later work on The Question Concerning Technology and then, more briefly, to contemporary philosophical discussions of ecological issues. This reading is intended to open the possibility of using Heidegger''s re-interpretation of Aristotle as a source within the Western European tradition for understanding our relationship to the natural world in a way that could provide the philosophical tools for addressing ecological problems (...) more adequately and effectively. (shrink)
A historical perspective can shed light on the dilemmas and dimensions of current ecological predicaments. Consideration of long-term trends in economic, demographic, and energy history show just how peculiar, disruptive, liberating, and unsustainable modern times have been. The current era of ecological tumult derives its impetus from many sources, not least the near-stasis in ideas and politics. It is the big ideas, like nationalism, communism, or the premium placed on economic growth, rather than explicitly environmental ideas, that most affected environmental (...) policy and outcomes in the 20th century, and will likely continue to do so in the 21st. (shrink)
This paper discusses problems associated with the use of optimality models in human behavioral ecology. Optimality models are used in both human and non-human animal behavioral ecology to test hypotheses about the conditions generating and maintaining behavioral strategies in populations via natural selection. The way optimality models are currently used in behavioral ecology faces significant problems, which are exacerbated by employing the so-called ‘phenotypic gambit’: that is, the bet that the psychological and inheritance mechanisms responsible for behavioral (...) strategies will be straightforward. I argue that each of several different possible ways we might interpret how optimality models are being used for humans face similar and additional problems. I suggest some ways in which human behavioral ecologists might adjust how they employ optimality models; in particular, I urge the abandonment of the phenotypic gambit in the human case. (shrink)
What’s wrong with the contemporary American medical system? What does it mean when a state’s democratic presidential primary casts 40% of its votes for a felon incarcerated in another state? What’s so bad about teaching by PowerPoint? What is _truly_ the dirtiest word in America? These are just a few of the engaging and controversial issues that Michael Blumenthal, poet, novelist, essayist, and law professor, tackles in this collection of poignant essays commissioned by West Virginia Public Radio. In these (...) brief essays, Blumenthal provides unconventional insights into our contemporary political, educational, and social systems, challenging us to look beyond the headlines to the psychological and sociological realities that underlie our conventional thinking. As a widely published poet and novelist, Blumenthal brings along a lawyer’s analytical ability with his literary sensibility, effortlessly facilitating a distinction between the clichés of today’s pallid political discourse and the deeper realities that lie beneath. This collection will captivate and provoke those with an interest in literature, politics, law, and the unwritten rules of our social and political engagements. (shrink)
Environmental advisory institutions around the world assume that ecological theory can directly inform decision-making in environmental policy and natural resource management . Accordingly, theoretical ecological models are supposed to serve as reliable guides for adjudicating between policy and management alternatives. Leading ecologists even promise that TEMs can “provide a strong guide for environmental management and resource conservation” . At the same time, criticisms of theory-based policy and management have persisted since the 1970s—after the overall failure of the International ..