This is the official site of the International Society for Environmental Ethics. For more than 20 years ISEE has striven to advance research and education in the field of environmental ethics and philosophy, and to promote appropriate human use, respect, conservation, preservation, and understanding of the natural world. Here you’ll find a bevy of information including original articles, book reviews, and presentations, as well as information about events worldwide and links to other environmental ethics-related resources. To join the society or sign up for ISEE’s mailing list, visit the Quick Links section below.
Submissions are invited for the International Society for Environmental Ethics (ISEE) group sessions at the 2018 Eastern Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association (APA). The meeting will be held January 3-6, 2018, in Savannah, GA. Submission deadline: July 1, … Continue reading
Submissions are invited for the International Society for Environmental Ethics (ISEE) sessions at the 2017 Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association (APA). The upcoming meeting will be held in the city of Seattle, Washington, from April 12 to April 15, … Continue reading
The Summer 2016 edition (v. 26, n. 1) of the ISEE Newsletter is now available.
ISEE is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 Holmes Rolston Early Career Prize. They are Toby Svoboda, an assistant professor at Fairlfield University, and Tyler Kasperbauer, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Food and Resource Economics at … Continue reading
The membership year for the International Society for Environmental Ethics begins on Earth Day, April 22.
Please consider becoming a member of the Society. You can do so on the website. Continue reading
Adapting Environmental Ethics to Rapid, Anthropogenic, and Global Ecological Change
H.J. Andrews Forest Research Station
Blue River, Oregon
JULY 10-13, 2019
Conference report by Emma Marris
This July, environmental ethicists from around the world gathered under 500-year-old Douglas-firs and hemlocks at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon to share their work. The 16th annual ISEE Summer Meeting featured several papers touching on environmental policy, environmental psychology, and the role of the philosopher in the ongoing climate and biodiversity crisis—a practical bent that perhaps reflects an increased sense of urgency and momentum in the world of environmental activism. In that vein, the meeting closed with a strategy session, led by Eugene Chislenko of Temple University, in which the assembled philosophers shared insights on how they could fold climate activism into their work.
Over the course of three days, the group worked through 18 draft papers on topics ranging from bees as symbols of neoliberal environmental thought to the role of gene drives in conservation to legal strategies for holding climate emitters responsible for losses and damages resulting from their actions. The keynote address, by Katie McShane of Colorado State University, took up perhaps the most central of all environmental ethics questions: how are we to value the natural world? McShane argued for a value system that goes beyond welfarism—what is good for an entity—and embraces values derived from appreciative attitudes like “respect, awe, wonder, admiration, interest, attachment, and aesthetics.” She gave as an example the wonder she feels when contemplating a neutron star—the collapsed core of a giant sun—despite the fact that the unimaginably distant object can be of no practical benefit to her.
Between papers, conference-goers chatted over delicious meals cooked up by two chefs who noted that the group had the most vegans they had ever cooked for. The chefs rose to the challenge, and one vegan attendee remarked that he wasn’t used to having so many choices! One evening, conversation continued after dinner at a cheerfully crackling campfire. Two children notably polished off almost an entire bag of marshmallows, with just a little help from the philosophers gathered around the fire.
Attendees were also treated to a personal tour of the experimental forest by the principal investigator, Micheal Nelson of Oregon State University, himself a philosopher, and Fred Swanson, a geologist and ecosystem scientist with the US Forest Service who has studied the forest for decades. Together, the two sketched out the research conducted at the site and the food web of an old-growth forest, highlighting the surprising role of nitrogen-fixing lichen, which make the nutrient available to the trees after they fall from the canopy and rot into the soil. As the philosophers listened, mosquitoes flitted among them, weaving them into the food web by sucking their blood. The circle was completed when the humans nibbled on the red huckleberries that thrive in the understory.
Another highlight was a lecture by owl expert Tim Fox, an archaeologist for the U.S. Forest Service who studied spotted owls earlier in his career. Fox shared stories from his time in the field, owl calls, and his thoughts on the current strategy for protecting the spotted owl, which includes shooting barred owls that have been making their way from the east coast and out-competing the smaller endangered owl for territories. It is the kind of ethical puzzle that cried out for analysis by environmental ethicists—a case study just waiting under the trees for the philosophers to take a crack at.
The ethicists left the meeting with new knowledge, new ideas, new professional relationships, new mosquito bites, and the pleasant odor of campfire-smoke woven into their clothes.
- CFP: ISEE 2020 Pacific Meeting of the American Philosophical Association Group Sessions
- Workshop – Politics of Wonder: Difference and Dignity in Nature and Society
- CFP: ISEE Sessions at the 2020 Central Meeting of the American Philosophical Association
- CFP: 4th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society for Environmental Philosophy
- International Society for Environmental Ethics 2019 Summer Conference