Andrea I. Woody
Focuses on some of the philosophical questions that arise in connection with environmental studies. Topics to be considered include: the ideological roots of current issues, values and the natural world, public policy and risk assessment, intergenerational justice, and social change.
This course explores philosophical issues arising in the context of environmental studies. Some of these issues are essentially ethical in nature, e.g. What are the boundaries of our ethical obligations? Do they include non-human animals? Future generations of humans? Trees? Ecosystems? And how are we to justify the boundaries that we decide to endorse? Other questions are more epistemological in nature, e.g. What sort of evidence can we have for global warming? What will be the consequences of significant reductions in biodiversity? How do we know? We will address questions of each sort while pondering what should constitute rational decisions regarding environmental issues and asking how we may bring theoretical frameworks into practice. Doing so requires us to grapple with how scientific information and value systems can work together to produce solid grounding for both individual and communal deliberation and action. Our responses will be shaped by consideration of specific issues including global warming, population control, the future of salmon populations in the Northwest, and recycling. Course requirements will include in class exams, take-home exercises, and a short essay. Suitable for nonmajors. No prerequisites. Meets I&S requirement.
Lectures MWF; Discussion Sessions TTh
No prior philosophical training assumed.
Class Assignments and Grading