In place of traditional approaches in environmental ethics, I suggest an improved approach, with respect to the goal of improving the condition of the natural environment, called 'world mediation' through the use of Hannah Arendt's theory of the vita activa . This approach focuses on the relationship between human made worlds and nature, from which a theory of value is suggested. Intrinsic value theory and nature-culture monism are both criticized for an insufficient attention paid toward the human-nature relationship.
John Dewey’s theory of value provides a strong alternative to traditional intrinsic value theory that can better address the need for a wide distribution of environmental values. Grounded in his theories of experience and inquiry, Dewey understands values as concrete practices acquired through the interaction of the human organism with its surroundings. Dividing value into acts of immediate valuation and acts of evaluation, Dewey shows that all values start out as desires and through reflective criticism eventuate in value practices. Value (...) inquiry is the practice of responding to problems in the world for which our established value practices are unable to respond adequately. This model of value is shown to be a much needed improvement over intrinsic value theory insofar as it is inclusive of human desire, limiting the capacity to value to human beings, avoids much of the metaphysical and ethical conflict in the biocentrism/ecocentrism debate, as well as rejects the artificial distinction between instrumental and intrinsic value. The case for Dewey’s theory of value is further strengthened by how closely Aldo Leopold’s experience-based practice of value in A Sand County Almanac parallels Dewey’s theory of value, especially with respect to the importance of desire, science, and education. (shrink)
This article develops the idea of ‘ecological freedom’ from Aldo Leopold’s account of ecological relations in terms of the dual notions of the “freedom from want and fear” and the “freedom to make mistakes.” Through an analysis of Leopold’s thought on technology and civilization, I develop and argue for the claim that direct experience of ecological relations, or ecological freedom, is vital to meaningful human life. The absence of ecological freedom constitutes a form of ecological alienation, which is paired with (...) social alienation. Ecological freedom is then used as a way to understand environmental injustice and critique contemporary environmentalism. (shrink)
In Democracy and Moral Conflict, Robert Talisse defends a folk epistemological justification of democracy. This is a universalist and non-moral justification that he deems necessary to accommodate moral pluralism. In contrast, I argue that this attempt fails to justify democracy, on three grounds. First, democracy cannot accommodate moral pluralism, as Talisse understands it. Second, Talisse's own conception of democracy is inconsistent with moral pluralism. And third, democracy requires moral justification and motivation, both of which can be made consistent from within (...) an experimental moral pluralism. (shrink)
In this paper, I address the motivation gap that prevents many people from acquiring and activating environmental values. In the face of this gap, I analyze Aldo Leopold’s conservation philosophy as a potential solution. This is done by reading Leopold through John Dewey’s theory of aesthetic experience, in which motivated action develops out of unified aesthetic experience made up of three phases: action, emotion, and intelligence. Showing that Leopold’s approach to conservation exhibits this aesthetic structure not only gives it a (...) clearer organization but promotes its use for rectifying the severe lack of environmental conscience and practice in society. (shrink)