CFP: International Society for Environmental Ethics 17th Annual Summer Meeting

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Call for papers on themes concerning

Action and the Climate Crisis

July 6-9, 2020
H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Blue River, 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 first-order normative claims, initiatives, and action in response to the range of environmental threats connected to climate change, biodiversity loss, mass extinction, pollution, and ecosystem degradation.

An escalating rhetoric of a “crisis” or “emergency” has accompanied an increase of public awareness about harmful climate impacts and degraded environmental conditions. With some regularity, we hear that observed phenomena either meet or exceed the worst-case scenarios within a suite of possible trajectories. Predicted changes in the natural world are unfolding more rapidly than expected, e.g. loss of Arctic ice, and international pledges to act are simply not being met, as global GHG emissions continue to grow. Empirical studies reveal surprising and deeply troubling information about, for example, the collapse of insect and bird populations, while some powerful right-wing and authoritarian political leaders only exacerbate the problems, e.g. Trump’s withdraw from the Paris Agreement and Bolsonaro’s policies of deforestation and development in the Amazon.

In response, there has been growing youth-led, political engagement, exemplified by the international school strikes for climate action and the U.S. Sunrise Movement, as well as a return to non-violent direct action (e.g., by Extinction Rebellion in the UK). One widespread refrain asserts we have only 12 years to radically transform society, which calls for a mobilization equivalent to those made to fight world wars. How should we think about that? While environmental philosophy has traditionally focused on theory, concepts, and ideological frameworks (e.g. conceptions of intrinsic value, anthropocentrism, and environmental justice), the theme of this conference is to focus on praxis, conduct, behavior, and concrete action: How can philosophy help us understand and engage with conditions that call us to action? How can we do activism well in the climate arena, both strategically and ethically? What will future generations, in retrospect, think we should be doing today?

Proposals prepared for blind review should be submitted via email to Allen Thompson, <allen.thompson@oregonstate.edu> no later than March 1st, 2020. Decisions will be announced by April 15th.

ISEE Sessions at APA Central

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ISEE will be hosting 2 affiliated group sessions at the 2020 Central Division Meeting of the APA:

Friday, February 28  7:00pm – 10:00pm

Climate Justice

Chair:

Ben Almassi

Speakers:

William Littlefield (Case Western Reserve University) – “Utility Gains in Climate Justice”

Marcus Hedahl (US Naval Academy) – “Climate Justice & Moral Psychology: Surprising Stoic Solutions”

Kizito Michael George (Kyambogo University) – “Linking Climate Change to Human Rights and Social Justice: A Critique of the Ethics and Epistemologies of Climate Change Science”

Rachel Fredericks (Ball State University) – “Climate Legacy: A New(ish) Concept for the Climate Crisis”

Saturday, February 29  2:00pm – 5:00pm

Understanding Community

Chair: Megs Gendreau (Centre College)

Speakers:

Connor Kianpour (Georgia State University) – “Dolphin Ownerhood: Nonhuman Persons and Habitative Noninterference”

Sade Hormio (UC Berkeley) – “Climate Change and Responsibility as Members of Collective Agents”

Justin Donhauser (Bowling Green State University) – “Robot Pollinator Ethics”

Zachary Vereb (University of South Florida) – “A Kantian Perspective on Climate Ethics: History and Global Community” 

ISEE Sessions at APA Pacific

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The 2020 Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association will be April 8th to 11th at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco, CA. 

ISEE will be hosting two affiliated group sessions.

Session 1: Wednesday April 8th from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Teaching Environmental Philosophy: Engaged and Inclusive Pedagogies

Chairs: Simona Capisani (University of California, Irvine)
Marion Hourdenquin (Colorado College)
Panelists: Chris Cuomo (University of Georgia)
Rebeka Ferreira (Green River College)
Benjamin Hole (Pacific University)
Clair Morrissey (Occidental College)

Session 2: Saturday April 11th from 6:00 to 8:00

Environmental Ethics: Ethics for a Changing World

Speakers:

Arthur Obst (University of Washington) – “Demandingness from Despair”

Daniel Callies (University of California, San Diego) and Yasha Rohwer (Oregon Institute of Technology) – “Intentionally Eradicating a Species: Examining the Case against and the Value of Anopheles Gambiae”

Blake Francis (University of Maryland Baltimore County) – “Middle Emissions: Climate Ethics and the Global Middle Class”

ISEE Sessions at APA Eastern

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Workshop on Sustainability in Philosophy

Friday, January 10, 2020, 9-11 am

This session will open with a special announcement of this year’s finalists and winner of ISEE’s Andrew Light Award in Public Philosophy.  Professor Light will present the award.  

Following the award presentation, the workshop will be led by co-founders of Philosophers for Sustainability (PfS), Eugene Chislenko of Temple University and Rebecca Millsop of University of Rhode Island.  Professors Millsop and Chislenko will describe several recent initiatives of Philosophers for Sustainability and lead a discussion of effective ways to integrate sustainability into teaching, research, and service. The workshop will include discussion of a proposed set of Guidelines for Sustainable Practices in Philosophy, developed by PfS and under consideration by the APA for inclusion in its Good Practices Guide.

Environmental Ethics in Social Context:

Robots, Gene Drives, and Water Management

Saturday, January 11, 2020, 11:15 am-1:15 pm

 

Chair: Marion Hourdequin

Speakers:

Justin Donhauser (Bowling Green University) “Environmental Robot Virtues?”

Zahra Meghani (University of Rhode Island), “An Approach for Evaluating Arguments for the Environmental Release of Genetically Engineered Animals with Gene Drives”

Gehad Abdelal (University of Georgia) “Water Ethics: The Problem of Uncertainty and Colonial Implication on the Nile River Conflict”

Colloquium to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Alexander von Humboldt

Thom Heyd, long-time member of ISEE and co-representative of ISEE in Canada, has organised a Colloquium to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Alexander von Humboldt. The aim of the event is to open a discussion on the importance of Humboldt’s integrative approach to science and the planet at this time when we try to confront the reality of the Anthropocene. It takes place on 13-14 September 2019 at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Further information may be found at https://www.uvic.ca/socialsciences/geography/assets/docs/von-humboldt-anthropocene.pdf.

 

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.