CFP – Whatever Happened to Deep Ecology?

An invitation for papers on the
Occasion of 30th anniversary of The Trumpeter

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2014 marks the 30th anniversary of The Trumpeter. Founded in 1984 with an explicit reference to deep ecology, The Trumpeter is one of the oldest environmental philosophy journals in the world. As is the case with any personal milestone, anniversaries are an occasion for reflection, a time to look back at what has happened, where one is now, and what the future holds. Consequently, The Trumpeter is inviting contributions from scholars to comment on, critique, and debate the past, current and future state of deep ecology.

Deep ecology was one of the primary schools of environmental thought, alongside theories like ecofeminism, social ecology, animal protectionism, biocentrism, and ecocentrism, but according to some it seems to have dissipated as a force of environmental theory in the 21st century. So whatever happened to deep ecology? Is it dead? Has it been transformed and dispersed into other branches of environmental theory? Is it still relevant to the environmental contexts we currently face? Regardless of one’s answer to these issues, surely it is of utmost importance for deep ecology as an intellectual and social movement to ask these questions if it wishes to retain its vitality and significance. To that end, The Trumpeter seeks contributions from environmental scholars on the past, present, and future of deep ecology.

Questions or Topics

  • To what degree can deep ecology address current environmental problems as we now understand them? Is deep ecology a dinosaur, or does it hold promise for the future? If the latter, what are they?
  • What is the current state of deep ecology? What challenges does deep ecology face at the moment? Where do the various points of the deep ecology platform, e.g. intrinsic value or overpopulation, stand in current environmental debate or activism?
  • What is deep ecology’s future? Does deep ecology even have a future? What are the new issues facing deep ecology? How can it become a more active voice in environmental debate or activism?
  • New perspectives on past debates such as deep ecology vs. social ecology or ecofeminism.
  • Reassessments or new overviews of the history of deep ecology.
  • Does the “deep” in deep ecology make sense to us today? What does it mean and what might its relevance today be? The proclamation of the “end of nature” has now long been heard far and wide, from McKibben to Latour. Is there a place for “nature” in our understanding of the world, or does it need to be jettisoned as an outmoded concept? And what are the implications of this decision?
  • Deep ecology tried to address understanding the world and our place in it at a fundamental, ground-up level. Granted that we will always need to find specific solutions to specific problems, is a utilitarian focus on environmental issues the only thing we need be concerned with? Does deep ecology have something to teach us here?
  • Arne Naess, George Sessions, and Bill Devall repeatedly emphasize that a commitment to the 8 point platform does not necessarily entail a commitment to any specific metaphysical foundation. In what sense has this metaphysical amorphousness benefited or hindered deep ecology as political and philosophical movement? At the same time, many have interpreted Naess’s work as call to re-engage in metaphysical theorizing. Is such a re-engagement even possible in an age which has prided itself as heralding the end of metaphysics and is generally suspicious of all grand theories? Does environmental philosophy need a metaphysics?
  • Deep ecology has often been distinguished from other environmental movements for being more focused on the “spiritual” dimensions of the environmental crisis than its economic and political aspects, and willing to engage especially minority religious and spiritual traditions. Is this focus on the spiritual aspects of environmental destruction central to deep ecology? Does this focus translate into a jettisoning of economic and political concerns? Can one engage other spiritual traditions without misappropriating them? Does this appeal to the spiritual represent a rejection of rationality and an embrace of irrational mysticism?

Submission guidelines

Submissions for the 30th anniversary special issue should be submitted via The Trumpeter’s online journal system no later than 31 August 2014. Submissions should not exceed 7000-9000 words including abstract.

Please direct all correspondence to
Nathan Kowalsky, PhD