Two of the most important political movements of the late twentieth century are those of environmentalism and feminism. In this book, Val Plumwood argues that feminist theory has an important opportunity to make a major contribution to the debates in political ecology and environmental philosophy. _Feminism and the Mastery of Nature_ explains the relation between ecofeminism, or ecological feminism, and other feminist theories including radical green theories such as deep ecology. Val Plumwood provides a philosophically informed account of the relation (...) of women and nature, and shows how relating male domination to the domination of nature is important and yet remains a dilemma for women. (shrink)
In this much-needed account of what has gone wrong in our thinking about the environment, Val Plumwood digs at the roots of environmental degradation. She argues that we need to see nature as an end itself, rather than an instrument to get what we want. Using a range of examples, Plumwood presents a radically new picture of how our culture must change to accommodate nature.
Rationalism is the key to the connected oppressions of women and nature in the West. Deep ecology has failed to provide an adequate historical perspective or an adequate challenge to human/nature dualism. A relational account of self enables us to reject an instrumental view of nature and develop an alternative based on respect without denying that nature is distinct from the self. This shift of focus links feminist, environmentalist, and certain forms of socialist critiques. The critique of anthropocentrism is not (...) sacrificed, as deep ecologists argue, but enriched. (shrink)
The critique of anthrocentrism has been one of the major tasks of ecophilosophy, whose characteristic general thesis has been that our frameworks of morality and rationality must be challenged to include consideration of nonhumans. But the core of anthrocentrism is embattled and its relationship to practical environmental activism is problematic. I shall argue here that although the criticisms that have been made of the core concept have some justice, the primary problem is not the framework challenge or the core concept (...) itself, but rather certain problematic understandings of it which have developed in environmental philosophy. In the case of the intrinsic/instrumental distinction, much of the criticism turns on unrealistic expectations about what the distinction means and what it can do; in the case of anthropocentrism, a perverse reading which I will call cosmic anthrocentrism has invited many of the criticisms which have been widely seen as fatal to the concept. Using concepts and models originating in feminist theory and other liberation critiques, I outline an alternative, feminist rereading of anthrocentrism. I argue that this model is theoretically illuminating and capable of meeting major objections that the perverse readings have invited. Critics of the core distinctions have almost universally identified the two core concepts and issues of anthrocentrism and instrumental/intrinsic value. The analysis I present will show how these concepts and issues are connected, but also why there is more to anthrocentrism than the failure to recognise the intrinsic value of nature, and why anthrocentrism rather that intrinsic value should be the major conceptual focus of environmental critique. It will also show why the framework challenge is of practical importance to the green movement and why anthrocentrism is a serious problem in contemporary life. (shrink)
The volume documents, and makes an original contribution to, an astonishing period in twentieth-century philosophy—the progress of Arne Naess's ecophilosophy from its inception to the present. It includes Naess's most crucial polemics with leading thinkers, drawn from sources as diverse as scholarly articles, correspondence, TV interviews and unpublished exchanges. The book testifies to the skeptical and self-correcting aspects of Naess's vision, which has deepened and broadened to include third world and feminist perspectives. Philosophical Dialogues is an essential addition to the (...) literature on environmental philosophy. (shrink)
: The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report issued in April 2005 shows how severely our civilisation is degrading and overstressing the natural systems that support human life and all other lives on earth. An important critical challenge, especially for the eco-humanities, is to help us understand the conceptual frameworks and systems that disappear the crucial support provided by natural systems and prevent us from seeing nature as a field of agency. This paper considers the currently popular concept of a cultural landscape (...) as an example of a concept that downplays natural agency, and discusses the epistemology of nature scepticism and nature cynicism that often accompanies its vogue in the humanities. Can some philosophical disentangling of senses of nature (often considered the most complex term in the language) allow sceptics their main points without placing them on such a strong collision course with the requirements of commonsense and survival? (shrink)
In this posthumously published paper Val Plumwood reflects on two personal encounters with death, being seized as prey by a crocodile and burying her son in a country cemetery with a flourishing botanic community. She challenges the exceptionalism which sets the human self apart from nature and which is reflected in the choice between two conceptions of death, one of continuity in the realm of spirit, the other a reductive materialist conception in which death marks the end of the story (...) of the self. Both perspectives structure out the basis of animal existence – that we are all food, and through death nourish others. She commends an animistic materialist approach, where life is seen as in circulation and where mortuary practices might affirm death as an opportunity of life for others in the ecological community. (shrink)
I argue that Janna Thompson’s critique of environmental ethics misrepresents the work of certain proponents of non-instrumental value theory and overlooks the ways in which intrinsie values have been related to valuers and their preferences. Some of the difficulties raised for environmental ethics are real but would only be fatal if environmental ethics could not be supplemented by a wider environmental philosophy and practice. The proper context and motivation for the development of non-instrumental theories is not that of an objectivist (...) value theory but rejection of the human domination and chauvinism involved in even the broadest instrumental accounts of nature as spiritual resource. (shrink)
Recognition of intentionality and the possibility of agency in nonhuman others is a prerequisite for a process of mutual adjustment and dialogue that could replace current reductive and dualistic human-centred theories. John Andrews' article in this issue of Environmental Values is criticised for misattributing to me the view that intentionality could be a sole criterion for moral worth – a view which I reject as unacceptably hierarchical and human-centred. To clarify my position, the values and limitations of different kinds of (...) ranking are discussed; and the concept of intentionality is explored, with particular reference to apparently purposeful machines and to Dennett's theory of consciousness. (shrink)
Philosophy's traditional "man of reason"—independent, neutral, unemotional—is an illusion. That's because the "man of reason" ignores one very important thing—the woman. Representing Reason: Feminist Theory and Formal Logic collects new and old essays that shed light on the underexplored intersection of logic and feminism.
Timothy Mahoney discovers and champions an ecologically benign account of Plato in opposition to my own critical analysis of the reason-centeredness, reason-nature dualism, and nature and body devaluation in the Platonic dialogues, in which multiple linked dualisms of reason and nature associated with systems of oppression provide major organizing principles for Platonic philosophy. I show first that Mahoney's criticisms of my interpretation involve some careless and mistaken readings of my own text. Second, I argue that Mahoney* s account of nature (...) is significantly different from Plato's. Mahoney's interpretation of Plato is an overly generous and idealized one which plays on the multiplicity and elasticity of the concept of nature and the notorious vagueness of the concept of participation to conflate, among other things, Plato's attitude to celestial nature with his attitude to biological nature. Mahoney's interpretation involves setting aside Plato's gender politics, playing down some of Plato's most offensive and revealing passages of earth disparagement, and ignoring the network of social meanings from which Plato's philosophy emerges. Finally, I give some reasons why Mahoney's accounts of participation and nature, even considered as a reworking of Plato, would be highly problematic as the foundation for an ecological philosophy. (shrink)