PHL373H Issues in Environmental Philosophy

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Published on 9 Jan 2012
Monday, January 9, 2011
Environmental Ethics
Prof. I. Stefanovic
Issues in Environmental Ethics
Week 1: Introduction
1. Introductions and Welcome
We will probably be changing rooms (we kind of have a room in Emmanuel College on hold)
Prof’s bias: continental thought
Heidegger is her focus
Has always done interdisciplinary work - ultimately we need to make philosophy useful in the world
2. Environmental Ethics and Traditional Philosophy
most of us do not have the pre-requisites so there will be a little background and recommended
readings to prepare you for the course
it involves ethical Extensionalism but also include sentient beings (e.g. ecosystems, rocks, etc.)
field broadens what counts under the umbrella of moral considerability
you can still remain w/in anthropocentrism but on the other end - questioning anthropocentrism
if you do not have PHL273 read - Joseph DesjardinsEnvironmental Ethics
Individualism and Holism: an uneasy alliance
you will hear things like holistic thought
when values are assigned it is to something specific - usually an individual
we are trying to maximize the good - aggregate
ecology tells us that there is something greater than the sum of its parts
what does it mean to value a species?
in this course you don’t have to chose individualism or holism - that may not be the right
it raises the question of what it means to think holistically
Western paradigms brought into question
traditional thoughts of consumerism
lots of questions about wisdom of simply absorbing the idea of consumerism
environmental ethics questions some of the qualification methods of learning
there is room for other kinds of knowledge: aboriginal knowledge
traditional ecological knowledge TEK is now being integrated into science in Canada since the
government recognized it
some of these methods are allowed - there are diverse ways of knowing
you will find some overlap
additional perspectives are always welcome
there is a level of tolerance and open-mindedness that is required
3. Continental Philosophy
British Analytic
refers to the thinkers who came to the continent
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Monday, January 9, 2011
Environmental Ethics
Prof. I. Stefanovic
thinkers from France, Germany who reacted to a narrow analytic prism from which to look at
“The Continent”
he was one of the first existentialist - it was a different approach
you are talking about this group of philosophers who emerged in the continent
post-modernism, existentialism, phenomenology
environmental continental philosophy today are in the US - International Association for
Environmental Philosophy
continental philosophers who wanted to bring Continentalism into the field of Environmental
“Existence Before Essence”
notion that there was meaning (thorough gods)
there is no given meaning - it is created by virtue of human understanding/interpretation
there is no truth out there w/out human interpretation
trying to signal that philosophy is more than an academic exercise
“Lived Experience” before Abstract Thinking
-philosophy was going to be engaged and how they actually live
-i.e. the meaning of life
-not simply an abstract exercise - it is meant to reveal something that we live everyday
-phil defines who we are
Questioning the Subject/Object Split
this split is immediately questioned by most Continental philosophers
not just a description of subject and opinion
dualisms are counter-productive
we are going to try and investigate the relations between these
Beyond the realism/idealism
subjective/objective metaphysical
epistemological debates
simplistic dualistic division to be questioned
Critical of “Essentializing” Tendencies of “Modernism”
there is no one right answer but does not mean that every one is right to some degree
we are going to be very critically reflective about theories that claim to know everything about it
prof: one of the things can’t stand about reading philosophical papers is that we tend to
construct our argument by suggesting that someone else is thoroughly wrong; we feel that we
will reach ultimate truth - essentializing language becomes suspect
Beyond Logical Positivism
Chaos over linear causality
continental philosophers begin to recognize that linear thinking is not true - life is messy
we must find better ways to understand it and still finding reasonable neatness
Thinking over Logical Deduction
a lot of these thinkers are trained mathematicians
you will find that they respect the fact that logic has a role
“you have to justify this” “give me a reason” - will be comments prof will use when grading
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