Adapting Environmental Ethics to Rapid, Anthropogenic, and Global Ecological Change

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

Call for Papers

INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS

2020 Pacific Meeting of the American Philosophical Association

Submissions are invited for the International Society for Environmental Ethics group sessions at the 2020 Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association (APA). The meeting will be held April 8-11, 2020, at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco, California.

Special consideration will be given this year to work in the areas of climate change, conservation, and resource scarcity. We invite submissions of individual papers (approximately 20 minute presentations) or proposals for themed sessions (particular topics, author-meets-critics, etc.).

ISEE is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we welcome submissions from all, including scholars of color, LGTBQ scholars, indigenous scholars, and other scholars from communities underrepresented in the profession.

Please include any interest in chairing a session as well.

People working in any area of ethics concerning environmental issues are encouraged to submit proposals.

Submission Procedure:

  • For individual paper submissions, please submit either: (1) a 300-word abstract, or (2) a full paper (approx. 3000 words).
  • For themed sessions, please submit the proposed session title, a brief description of the session, names of all those participating, and titles for each paper. Paper abstracts (of up to 300 words) are strongly encouraged. Participants should be confirmed as willing to attend if the session goes forward.
  • Materials should be submitted in Microsoft Word or PDF format to: Alex Lee (ISEE Secretary) at aplee@alaskapacific.edu 
Please include “ISEE/APA” in the subject line.
  • The deadline for submitting proposals is September 15, 2019.

CFP: ISEE Sessions at the 2020 Central Meeting of the American Philosophical Association

Call for Papers

THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL

ETHICS

2020 Central Meeting of the American Philosophical Association

Submissions are invited for the International Society for Environmental Ethics Group Sessions at the 2020 Central Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, IL (February 26-29, 2020).

Research in any area of philosophy related to or concerning environmental issues is welcomed, but special consideration will be given to work in the areas of climate change & climate justice, energy & energy justice, and mass extinction.

ISEE is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we welcome submissions from all, including scholars of color, LGTBQ scholars, indigenous scholars, and other scholars from communities underrepresented in the profession.

We invite submissions for individual papers (presentations of approximately 20 minutes) as well as themed sessions (topical discussions, panels, author-meets-critics, etc…)

Submission Procedure:

  • Please submit materials by the end of the day on August 30th, 2019.
  • For individual papers: please provide a 300-word abstract.
  • For themed sessions: please submit 1) the proposed session title, 2) a brief description (approximately 500 words) of the session including the names of all participants, and 3) titles for all papers. Individual paper abstracts are strongly encouraged, and all participants should be confirmed as willing to attend if the session goes forward.
  • Materials should be submitted in Microsoft Word or PDF format to: Megs Gendreau (ISEE Treasurer) at megs.gendreau@centre.edu
  • Please include “ISEE/APA” in the subject line of your email and feel free to contact Megs if you have further questions or concerns.

International Society for Environmental Ethics 2019 Summer Conference

Adapting Environmental Ethics to Rapid, Anthropogenic, and Global Ecological Change

H.J. Andrews Forest Research Station

Blue River, Oregon

 JULY 10-13, 2019

 Global biophysical systems have remined relatively stable across twelve thousand years of the Holocene Epoch, providing background climatic and ecological conditions for the emergence and development of human civilization as we know it. While there is convincing evidence of that the state and function of global earth systems, and thus subsequent environmental and biological conditions, have been significantly different across geologic time, alterations underway today stand out for their rapidity and anthropogenic origin. The so-called Anthropocene portends unprecedented and arguably irreversible ecological conditions arising within only a few hundred years, or less.

The theme of this conference is to recognize the need for received frameworks of environmental thinking and historic environmental imaginaries to be revisited, adapted, and perhaps radically revised – or not – in response to normative, political, and existential demands precipitated by radical anthropogenic environmental change across global, regional, and local scales.

 

PROGRAM:

July 10                                                                                           

5:00 pm     Introduction, Check-in, and Welcome to the H.J. Andrews

5:30 – 6:15 pm     Dinner

6:30 – 8:00 pm  Session I – ADAPTING ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS

  • Eugene Chislenko, “The Role of Philosophers in Climate Change”
    • Comments by Jeremy Bendik-Keymer
  • Jeremy Sorgen, “Adapting Ethics to Environmental Change”
    • Comments by Ken Shockley

8:00 – 10:00 pm     Welcome Reception

July 11                                                                                            

8:00 – 8:45 am     Breakfast

9:00 – 10:30 am     Session II – BIOTECHNOLOGY

  • Christopher Preston, “Whither Gene Drives”
    • Comments by Tama Weisman
  • Evelyn Brister, “Is Biotech a Strategy for Rewilding?”
    • Comments by Ben Hale

10:45 am – 12:15     Session III – JUSTICE FOR ALL

  • Thomas Bretz, “Disability and Environmental Justice”
    • Comments by Eugene Chislenko
  • Julia Gibson, “Climate Justice for the Dead and Dying”
    • Comments by Ben Almassi

12:30 – 1:15 pm     Lunch

1:30 – 3:00 pm     Session IV (NEO-) LIBERALISM IN ACTION

  • Christopher Rice, “The Green New Deal and Local Action”
    • Comments by Jay Odenbaugh
  • Tama Weisman, “On Honey Bees, Neo-Liberalism, and the Anthropocene”
    • Comments by Allison Fritz

3:15-4:45 pm     Session V – SEEING CHANGE IN NATURE

  • Allison Fitz, “Visualizing Climate Change: How Perception, Affect, and Personality Influence ‘Seeing'”
    • Comments by Kimberly Dill
  • Eva Maria Räpple, “Nature Passing By”
    • Comments by Katie McShane

5:00 – 5:45 pm     ISEE Annual Business Meeting

6:00 – 6:45 pm     Dinner

7:00 – 9:00 pm   KEYNOTE SPEAKER – Katie McShane

9:00 – 11:00 pm     Social Reception

July 12                                                                                             

8:00 – 8:45 am     Breakfast

9:00 – 10:30 pm     Session VII – CLIMATE CHANGE ETHICS

  • Mikko Puumala, “Climate Change & Adaptive Limits of Human Morality”
    • Comments by Allen Thompson
  • Kian Mintz-Woo, “Historical Responsibility for Loss and Damage”
    • Comments by Av Hiller

10:45 – 12:15 pm     Session VI – ENVIRONMENTAL VALUE

  • Levi Tenen, “Nature’s Extrinsic Final Value”
    • Comments by Huey-li Li
  • Megs Gendreau, “Valuing Out of Context”
    • Comments by Thomas Bretz

12:30 – 1:15 pm     Lunch

1:30 – 2:00 pm     Long Term Ecological Research/Reflections at the Andrews Forest, with Dr. Michael Nelson (PI, OSU/H.J. Andrews LTER)

2:00 – 3:00 pm     Walk down to the Blue River with Dr. Fred Swanson (OSU Forestry)

3:00 – 5:30 pm     Hike the Discovery Trail or Old Growth Trail with Fred Swanson

5:30 – 7:00 pm    Spotted Owl Listening Walk with Tim Fox

7:00 – 8:00 pm     Dinner

8:00 – 10:00 pm     Campfire Reception

 

July 13                                                                                                 

8:00 – 8:45 pm     Breakfast

9:00 – 11:15 pm    Session IX – ISSEUS RE: THE ANTHROPOCENE

  • Simona Capisani, “Assuming the Anthropocene”
    • Comments by Alex Lee
  • Jeremy Bendik-Keymer, “Autonomous Conceptions of Our Planetary Situation”
    • Comments by Kian Mintz-Woo
  • Huey-li Li, “A Critical Examination of Confucianism in the Age of the Anthropocene”
    • Comments by Marion Hourdequin

11:30 – 1:00 pm     Session X – MORAL REPAIR AND DEVELOPMENT

  • Ben Almassi, “Environmental Justice and Restorative Justice Without Romanticism”
    • Comments by Julia Gibson
  • Alex Hamilton and Alex Lee, “Environmental Problems are Development Problems”
    • Comments by Mikko Puumala

1:00 – 2:00 pm     Lunch

Conference Close

 

 

 

NEW BOOK: ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION

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

 

 

CFP: ISEE 16th Annual Summer Meeting

International Society for Environmental Ethics

16th Annual Summer Meeting

Call for Papers on themes concerning

Rapid, Anthropogenic, and Global Ecological Change

July 10-13, 2019

H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Blue River, Oregon

 

The 16th annual summer meeting of the International Society for Environmental Ethics will convene from July 10 thru July 13, 2019, at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest Research Station, nestled in the Cascade Mountains east of Eugene, Oregon.

This call for papers solicits 500-word proposals for presentations on any topic in environmental philosophy. However, special attention will be given to proposals for talks concerning issues connected with rapid anthropogenic ecological change. Global biophysical systems have remined relatively stable across twelve thousand years of the Holocene Epoch, providing background climatic and ecological conditions for the emergence and development of human civilization as we know it. While there is convincing evidence of that the state and function of global earth systems, and thus subsequent environmental and biological conditions, have been significantly different across geologic time, alterations underway today stand out for their rapidity and anthropogenic origin. The so-called Anthropocene portends unprecedented and arguably irreversible ecological conditions arising within only a few hundred years, or less. The theme of this conference is to recognize the need for received frameworks of environmental thinking and historic environmental imaginaries to be revisited, adapted, and perhaps radically revised – or not – in response to normative, political, and existential demands precipitated by radical anthropogenic environmental change across global, regional, and local scales.

Possible subjects include the exploration of questions concerning the political and cultural conditions under which various anthropogenic drivers of global environmental change have arisen, how we should think about appropriate transformations and adaptations to already forgone and still likely greater climate and other environmental changes, the moral fabric of our relations with past and future human generations, and how to comprehend the moral dimensions of a sixth mass species extinction event. Possible topics include geoengineering, novel ecosystems, biodiversity loss, the role of humanistic representations of our place in the Anthropocene (e.g. through art, history, and narrative forms), de-growth and post-capitalist economies, justice, sustainability, human population growth, and culturally diverse worldviews.

Proposals prepared for blind review should be submitted via email to Allen Thompson, <allen.thompson@oregonstate.edu> no later than March 1st, 2019. Decisions will be announced by April 1st.