Environmental Philosophy: Sustainability, Ethics, Policy

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Contemporary environmental ethics, drawing on case studies from philosophy, public policy, and civil society in sustainability, animal welfare, land ethics, wilderness preservation, environmental economics, and resource management. Recurring questions are what fundamentally explains the value of nature and non-human animals, and how to integrate those values into decision-making analyses for society in which competing values may be at stake (such as human nutrition and wellbeing), and in which considerations of justice and sustainability may also loom large. Increasingly, such analyses must dovetail with analyses at a global scale -- for example, at the nexus of food, water, energy, and climate. Thus, values of local vs. global justice are increasingly at the forefront of environmental ethics, as well as concrete questions about the desirability and design of various international institutions.


Selections from:
Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind (4th ed.)
James Salzman and Barton Thompson, Environmental Law and Policy (4th ed.)
David Schmidtz and Elizabeth Willott eds., Environmental Ethics (2nd ed.)


Section One: The Value of Nature

Aldo Leopold, "On Top", "Thinking Like a Mountain", and "Escudilla", in A Sand County Almanac
John Muir, "Hetch Hetchy Valley", in Schmidtz and Willott
The Sierra Club, "Should We Also Flood the Sistine Chapel So Tourists Can Get Nearer the Ceiling?"
Bryan Norton, "The Environmentalists' Dilemma", in Schmidtz and Willott
One-Page Handout on Richard Routley's The Last Man Argument
Thomas Hill, "Ideals of Human Excellence and Preserving Natural Environments", in Schmidtz and Willott
Sierra Club v. Morton

Christopher Stone, "Should Trees Have Standing? Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects"
Freya Mathews, "Letting the World Grow Old: An Ethos of Countermodernity", in Schmidtz and Willott
Aldo Leopold, "The Quality of the Landscape", "The Land Ethic", and "Blue River"
Peter Singer, "All Animals are Equal", in Schmidtz and Willott
Jeff McMahan, "The Meat Eaters", New York Times
Val Plumwood, "Being Prey", in Schmidtz and Willott
Gary Varner, "Biocentric Individualism", in Schmidtz and Willott
Elliott Sober, "Philosophical Problems for Environmentalism", in Schmidtz and Willott
Aldo Leopold, "Axe-in-Hand", in A Sand County Almanac

Optional: Aldo Leopold Interactive Map, by Dan Styer and the Aldo Leopold Foundation
Optional: Lynn White, "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis", in Schmidtz and Willott
Optional: Martin Krieger, "What's Wrong With Plastic Trees?", in Schmidtz and Willott
Optional: Elizabeth Anderson, "Animal Rights and the Values of Nonhuman Life", in Sunstein and Nussbaum eds. Animal Rights
Optional: David Schmidtz and Elizabeth Willott, "The Last Man and the Search for Objective Value", in Schmidtz and Willott
Optional: William Cronon, "The Trouble With Wilderness", New York Times
Optional: Christopher Solomon, "Rethinking the Wild", New York Times
Optional: Ben Minteer, "The Fall of the Wild? Not Really", Slate

Section Two: Sustainability, Catastrophe, and Coercion
Garrett Hardin, "The Tragedy of the Commons", Science
Elizabeth Willott, "Recent Population Trends", in Schmidtz and Willott
Elinor Ostrom, selections from Governing the Commons
David Schmidtz, "The Institution of Property", in Schmidtz and Willott
Carol Rose, "Liberty, Property, Environmentalism", in Schmidtz and Willott
Robert Solow, "Sustainability: An Economist's Perspective"
Mark Sagoff, "Do We Consume Too Much?", in Schmidtz and Willott
Jon Christensen, "Are We Consuming Too Much?", Conservation
Boomer v. Atlantic Cement Co.
Stewart Udall, "The Last Traffic Jam: Too Many Cars, Too Little Oil. An Argument for the Proposition that 'Less Is More'", The Atlantic

Optional: Kenneth Arrow et. al., "Are We Consuming Too Much?", Journal of Economic Perspectives
Optional: The Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, World Resources Institute
Optional: Dan Shahar, "Free-Market Environmentalism Pace Environmentalism", in Schmidtz and Willott
Optional: Elinor Ostrom, "A General Framework for Analyzing Sustainability of Social-Ecological Systems", Science

Section Three: Justice, Globalization, Ecofeminism, and the Environment

Aldo Leopold, "Wilderness", in A Sand County Almanac
Ramachandra Guha, "Radical American Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation: A Third World Critique", in Schmidtz and Willott
Kristin Shrader-Frechette, "Environmental Justice: Creating Equality, Reclaiming Democracy", in Schmidtz and Willott
Karen Warren, "The Power and Promise of Ecological Feminism", in Schmidtz and Willott
Michael Sandel, "It's Immoral to Buy the Right to Pollute", New York Times
Robert Stavins, Steven Shavell, Sanford Gaines, Eric Maskin, Replies to Michael Sandel on buying the right to pollute, New York Times
Larry Summers and Lant Pritchett, memo on toxic waste and least developed countries
Debra Satz, "Summers, Sandel, and Egalitarian Theories of the Moral Limits of Markets", pp. 79-84, 94-98, and 109-110 of Why Some Things Should Not be For Sale
David Keith, selections from A Case for Climate Engineering
Peter Singer, "Famine, Affluence, and Morality", in Schmidtz and Willott
John Broome, "The Ethics of Climate Change", Scientific American
Peter Singer, "One Atmosphere", in One World
Cass Sunstein, selections from Laws of Fear: Beyond the Precautionary Principle

Optional: Historical Temperature Change Video from berkeleyearth.org
Optional: Interactive Data on Carbon Emissions and the Carbon Cycle from globalcarbonatlas.org
Optional: William Nordhaus, "Summary for the Concerned Citizen" in A Question of Balance
Optional: Thomas Schelling, "Notes on Personal Ranking [of Proposed Responses to Climate Change]", in Lomborg ed. Smart Solutions to Climate Change
Optional: Thomas Schelling, "The Cost of Combating Global Warming: Facing the Tradeoffs", Foreign Affairs
Optional: Stephen Gardiner, "A Perfect Moral Storm: Climate Change, Intergenerational Ethics, and the Problem of Corruption", in Schmidtz and Willott

Section Four: From Environmental Philosophy to Policy and Activism

James Salzman and Barton Thompson, selections from Environmental Law and Policy (4th ed.)
Kenneth Arrow et. al., "Is There a Role for Benefit-Cost Analysis in Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulation?", Science
Robert Solow, Reply to Steven Kelman on cost-benefit analysis, American Enterprise Institute Journal
Handout on Assumptions of Economic Models and Various CBA Methodologies
David Schmidtz, "A Place for Cost-Benefit Analysis", in Schmidtz and Willott
Martha Nussbaum, "The Costs of Tragedy: Some Moral Limits of Cost-Benefit Analysis", in Schmidtz and Willott
Nicholas Muller and Robert Mendelsohn, selections from Using Marginal Damages in Environmental Policy, AEI Press.
Lynn Scarlett, "Choices, Consequences, and Cooperative Conservation: A New Environmentalism?", in Schmidtz and Willott
David Schmidtz, "Natural Enemies: An Anatomy of Environmental Conflict", in Schmidtz and Willott
Scott Barrett, "The Montreal Protocol" and "Tipping Treaties", in Environment and Statecraft
Aldo Leopold, "Adventures of a Conservation Commissioner", in The River of the Mother of God
John Mackey et al, "The CEO as Animal Activist: John Mackey and Whole Foods", in Singer ed. In Defense of Animals
Peter Singer, "Pushing the Peanut Forward", in Ethics into Action: Henry Spira and the Animal Rights Movement
Environmental Working Group, Food Scores app and website
Paul Watson, "Tora! Tora! Tora!", in Schmidtz and Willott
Edward Abbey, selections from The Monkey Wrench Gang
Bruce Babbitt, selections from Cities in the Wilderness

Optional: Derek Parfit, "Energy Policy and the Further Future: The Identity Problem"
Optional: Kate Rawles, "The Missing Shade of Green", in Schmidtz and Willott