Vocab for PHIL 160 at UMass
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Date Created: 02/06/15
Philosophy 1600 Fall 2008 jayme johnson Unit 3 Handout 2 DesJardin s Environmental Ethics Chapter 7 Wilderness Ecology and Ethics Introduction 0 Ecologyithe study of the interactions ofliving organisms with each other and with their noneliving environment The locus of study is focused on Hogxterm 0 Ecosystemsiareas in which a variety of organisms interact in mutually bene cial ways with their living and noneliving environments 0 Ecocentric Ethicsithe view that environmental ethics should be bolixtz39e in the sense that ecological wholes such as species and ecosystems as well as noneliving objects and the relationships that exist among natural objects deserve ethical consideration The purpose of Chapter 7 To introduce some important ecological concepts and the ways in which philosophical inferences can be drawn from science particularly ecology through a discussion on the value ofwz39ldemem areas The Wilderness Ideal Question what is the proper understanding of the term wilderness As de ned by The le39ldememlet of7964 wilderness is de ned as those areas where the earth and its community oflife are untraInmeled by man where man himselfis a visitor who does not remain 0 many nd this de nition unsuitable and demand a revision but what should a de nition ofa wilderness area include what should it be like Some historic models ofwhat a wilderness area is 0 The Puritan model aInbiguously sees the wilderness as both an evil placeiforsaken by God home to the devil and a symbol of suffering and deathgand as a Promised Land that offered an escape from oppression O the puritan model ofwilderness sees it something to be taIned conquereddestroyed In short something to be gotten rid of so that citiesi where people truly flourishgcan be built 0 as early European settlers successfully cleared out and conquered wilderness areas the undersmnding ofwilderness began to change from a thing of evil to a treasure trove of resources 0 The Lockean model sees the wilderness as given by God to all people in common waiting for an individual with initiative and ambition to out and work it and in the process convert it into private personal property O O the Lockean model sees wilderness as potential real estate a commodity to be owned and used and exploited for whatever resources that can be taken from it most conservationists hold a Lockean View ofwilderness 0 The Romantic Model sees the wilderness as a symbol ofinnocence and purity O on this View the wilderness is the last remaining areas ofworld that are unspoiled and uncorrupted Emerson Thoreau and the New England Transcendentalists are often associated with this View ofwilderness on this View the wilderness is the most authentic instance of transcendent reality it represents a retreat from the corrupting influences of civilization it is the place people can go to attain their closest contact with the highest truths of spiritual excellence most people associated with the enVironmentalism movement seem to have a romantic conception ofwilderness areas The Wilderness Myth the contemporary debate Some contemporary critics argue that this thing called wilderness as described by the dominant romantic View just does not really exist That such wilderness areas are just a myth Reasons that critics give for thinking that the wilderness as some kind of objective being is a myth 0 wilderness is a concept best understood within a particular cultural and historical context as such the received romantic View of the wilderness is not an objective phenomena but a product ofidealizing the wilderness around the European white American concept the mklz39me The sublime implied a sacred spiritual otheriworldly experience like seeing the face of God 0 the Amermm frontier movement contributed to creation of the wilderness myth 0 The romantic notion of the wilderness is an z39mmumte model oftbe world 0 it tends to View unspoiled wilderness are a relatively benign and temperate place the model Views humans as separate from the rest of nature it tends to identify the wilderness with an idealized image as it existed at one particular point in time it tends to identify the wilderness as a static unchanging place 39 most ecologists deny this View of nature the challenge for an ecocentric ethics will be to develop a philosophy around a whole whose parts are constantly changing it can encourage an ethnocentric perspective 39 it can lead to the marginalization ofindigenous cultures it can have undesirable political consequences 39 eg anywhere that any person lives is g39pxo eto not wilderness and ifit is determined that it is then all those people will be forced to move From Ecology to Philosophy Because many environmentalists and all of the ecocentric approaches to environmental philosophy that we will examine appeal to ecology to explain and justify their conclusions it is important to become familiar with some of the models that have guided ecological research An early model for ecology the organic model According to the organic model individual species are related to their environment in the same way as organs are related to the bodies which compose them Just as bodies go through phases and changes mature over time and become adult so do ecosystems Thus an ecosystem on this analogy is a sort of superiorganism a kind ofliving entity that is something over and above the sum ofits parts It is this superiorganism which undergoes the process of development into maturity On the organic model the job of the ecologist is like that ofa physician Just as physicians diagnose and cure health problems for people ecologists do it for ecosystems By the early 20th century the organic model had fallen out of favor It was discovered that natural biotic communities do not always develop toward some one single organic whole The ecosystem model According to the ecosystem model it is the system as a whole that is most fundamental to the study of ecology this includes more than just the living members of those communities but also the whole complex ofphysical factors living and non It is the ecosystem then that is the most basic unit of nature The ecosystem is currently a central scientific concept Advantages of the Ecosystem model over the Organic model it doesn t posit the unlikely existence of some independent superiorganism the concept of an ecosystem as a physical system fits with other areas of and can be grounded in other fields of science eg physics and chemistry the ecosystem concept accommodates the important role of abiotic noniliving factors the ecosystem concept preserves the idea that ecological wholes are a fundamental part of nature The Community model and the Energy model Two different ways ofunderstanding ecosystemsgeach with different philosophical and ethical implications The Community model According to the community model nature is understood as a community or society in which parts are related to whole as citizens are related to their surrounding community and family the suggestion of the community model is mutual cooperation rather than individual competition 0 Elton s community model was a functional model based on food exchanges O One s role in the community is determined by what it eats and what eats it 0 one s role within thisfood tbaz39n determined one s nitbe 0 The community model describes the world metaphorically and qualitatively O examples of the qualitative terminology associated with the community model food producer consumer community occupations The Energy Model 0 According to the energy model of ecosystems the role of the ecologist is not like that ofa a social scientist but more like a physicist Just as physicists study the ow of energy within physical systems ecologists study the ow of energy within ecosystems 0 The qualitative language of the community model is then replaced with the vocabulary of physics and chemistry From Ecology to Ethics 0 A problem that keeps rearing its ugly head Some philosophers think that you can never get cc39 n ought from an is Discussion Do ecocentric thinkers give us good enough reasons to think that this kind ofinference is valid See especially the problems raised on page 169 0 It seems that no matter what ecology uncovers about ecosystems and what they need to be like to function well there seems to be an irreducible valueibased question that cannot be answered by ecology Why would we value the overall health of the system itself
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