Abstract In their effort to emphasize the positive role of nature in our lives, environmental thinkers have tended to downplay or even to ignore the negative aspects of our experience with nature and, even when acknowledging them, have had little to offer by way of psychologically and spiritually productive ways of dealing with them. The [...]
Please join us...in an exploration of questions arising from the puzzle of our relationship with the rest of nature.
Read Foundations of Conduct, a major publication of the New Academy's Values Project, also out in print in the journal Environmental Ethics
Conservationists have debated the philosophical merit of the idea of intrinsic value and its effectiveness in making the case for conservation since the time of Thoreau and Muir, and the argument has only gained urgency — and complexity — as a result of recent developments such as the emergence of restoration as a conservation strategy, the growing emphasis on the dynamic character of ecological systems and the prospect of climate change. The conversation at a conference at Brigham Young University last month suggests that the appeal to intrinsic value in conservation is losing ground to utilitarian arguments framed in terms of ecosystem services.
Environmentalists celebrate relationship, and some argue for a decentered, “biocentric” sensibility tuned to the presence and the value of everything epitomized in what is sometimes described as an “oceanic” experience. What happens, though, when the metaphor is literalized, and one is left literally “at sea”? Reflecting on the fate of Pip, the cabin boy left behind by a boat in pursuit of a whale in Moby-Dick, literary critic George Handley finds Herman Melville reflecting on the dark side of biocentric experience.