As a member of ISEE, you may be glad to discover that a new succinct, illustrated and inexpensive book has been published by Oxford University Press, entitled ‘Environmental Ethics: A Very Short Introduction’. The sterling price of this book (published in December 2018) is £7.99. Here are some of the comments on this book, in the form of pre-publication endorsements.

“Attfield’s new book confirms him as one of the most eloquent voices in present-day environmental ethics. It combines philosophical depth with extreme readability and makes a suggestive case for an ethics that pays tribute to the value of non-human nature.”
– Dieter Birnbacher, University of Duesseldorf


And here is another:

“Attfield can write a very concise introduction to environmental ethics with all the precision already shown in his dozen full-length works.”

 – Holmes Rolston III, Colorado State University .


While books of around 35,000 words, the ceiling imposed on works in this series, cannot be fully comprehensive, this one introduces the reader to a wide range of central themes. Here is a list of chapter headings: 1. Origins; 2. Some Key Concepts; 3. Future Generations; 4. Principles for Right Action; 5. Sustainability and Preservation; 6. Social and Political Movements; 7. Environmental Ethics and Religion; 8. The Ethics of Climate Change.


In one of the earliest reviews, Kees Vromans (Netherlands) describes this book as ‘Magnificent’. Here is a passage from a longer review, written by Nicole Souter in ‘The Philosopher’: ‘In addition to summarizing key insights of various thinkers that are essential to understanding modern discourses on the subject, Attfield formulates clear and persuasive arguments of his own. This, coupled with his engaging style of writing, ensures that Environmental Ethics is nigh on certain to spark the interest of a philosophically-inclined mind.’ And here is her concluding sentence: ‘ Environmental Ethics offers an entertaining, concise, and genuinely enlightening means to commence one’s engagement with the subject.’

This book includes six illustrations. One shows the under-water cabinet meeting of the Maldives government held in 2009 to illustrate the risk to that country of complete inundation through the impacts of global warming and climate change. Issues of biodiversity loss are also highlighted and included in the illustrations.

While many instructors may wish to use this book as introductory or background reading, it could also be considered as a textbook.  Paul Harris tells me that he plans to try it out in this role for his students in Hong Kong. Meanwhile two academics at Madrid were sufficiently impressed as to volunteer to translate it into Spanish; efforts are under way to find them a publisher, and also (on the part of Oxford U.P.) to make arrangements for a translation into Chinese. Could you too consider using this new work in your own teaching?


Robin Attfield, 4May, 2019