Environmental Ethics - ClassInfo

Phil 3301: Environmental Ethics

Instructor: Fareed Awan

Fall 2015 Blegen Hall 235 MF 1:00-2:15pm

Email: [email protected] Office: 858 Heller Hall Office Hours: T 10am-12pm

Grader: Kathryn Swanson ([email protected]) Course Description: This is an introductory course in environmental ethics. We will use critical philosophical methodology to examine contemporary problems related to the environment, such as the treatment of animals, the value of ecosystems, climate change, conservation, and how philosophical analysis can help address environmental problems. The course begins with a question of value: What (if anything) makes nature independently valuable? How should we treat animals? Are other natural objects, like ecosystems morally valuable? A variety of answers have been put forward, and we will critically examine them. The second part of the course focuses on how we should respond to nature on issues of restoration, preservation, and conservation. And the final portion of the course deals with applied problems: population ethics, biotechnology, and the most pressing environmental issue of our day, climate change. This course will familiarize students with philosophical methodology, especially critical analysis, and cover a wide range of questions related to how people understand, use, and live in the environment. Textbook: Environmental Ethics: What Really Matters, What Really Works, 2nd Edition. Eds. David Schmidtz and Elizabeth Willott (S&W). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Moodle: The paper, skills assignments, and short reading responses will all be submitted to the course Moodle site. The site is accessible to registered students through moodle.umn.edu Additional resources, like a discussion board, assignment information, and other course resources are also on the Moodle site. Course Expectations: Our task in this class will be to delve into timely and often controversial material together through discussion. Doing good philosophy requires patience and effort. Understanding these texts requires multiple readings, copious annotation, and thought. What you should expect to contribute are the following: 1. Preparation – In order to make a useful contribution to the discussion, you must complete the assigned reading prior to class, reread the material if it is not clear, and think through critical examples.

2. Participation – Philosophy is challenging. The best way to learn is to ask questions and engage critically with the variety of arguments presented. You will be expected to contribute to class discussion and engage with the material. 3. Respect – Given the course material and the nature of ethical theory, disagreement is both expected and encouraged. However, you are expected maintain a scholarly and respectful tone. This means you should address the points presented in your peer’s arguments fairly and not attack that person’s character. Comments reflecting judgment about the character of the person presenting the argument are not acceptable. Evaluation: The course is graded out of 500 points: Short Reading Responses (10 – lowest 2 dropped) Skills Assignments (4 – Assignments distributed) Micro-responses (In class: 18 – lowest 3 dropped) Paper (1000 words) Final Exam (Cumulative)

80 Points 160 Points 60 Points 100 Points 100 Points

Every assignment, besides the micro-responses, should be submitted through the Moodle course page. The final course grade, i.e. the letter grade, will be based on the total points earned; you will not receive a letter grade until after the final exam. Grades will be formally assigned on the following basis: A/AB+/B/BC+/C/C-

Student performance was exceptional, relative to course requirements. Student performance was significantly above the course requirements. Student performance fulfilled all course requirements. Student performance is worthy of credit, even though full course D+/D/Drequirements have not been fulfilled. Student performance is insufficient to earn course credit, even if some F requirements are fulfilled. Students taking the course on a S/N basis must earn a C- in order to receive a grade of Satisfactory. Incompletes (I) will not be given except in extreme circumstances. Assignment Guide: Reading Responses (RR): You will be expected to submit 10 reading responses during the semester. Six assignments are marked as having a required reading response on the syllabus. The remaining four “open” reading responses are your choice, with some qualifications.

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The RR should do two things: (1) summarize the main argument of an article and (2) offer either additional support or development of an argument/premise or one critical objection, in the form of a counter-example, pointed question, or difficult case that serves to critically engage with the article. Maximum length is about 250 words, i.e. around 1 page. The six required RRs are marked on the assignment section of the syllabus below. They will be due before they are discussed in class, i.e. prior to lecture. You may only submit ONE reading response per lecture day. The additional four “open” RRs should be submitted before we cover that reading in lecture, excluding the short introductory pieces by S&W. For example, an “open” reading response for the material covered in lecture 2 on 9/14 is due prior to lecture. You may write about any of the articles listed for L2 (excluding S&W as stated above). The same content requirements apply to required and open reading responses. RRs submitted after the deadline will not be accepted. Graded on the basis of +(excellent), P (acceptable), - (marginally acceptable), and X (No credit/no submission) Of your 10 reading responses, the lowest 2 scores will be dropped.

Skills Assignments: Skills assignments will develop four areas of philosophical writing: Evaluating arguments, forming/defending a thesis, formulating objections, and analyzing applied issues. These will be approximately 1-3 pages (double-spaced). Micro-responses: Throughout the semester there will be 18 unannounced short responses. This will be held in class, at the instructor’s discretion. The lowest three scores will be dropped. Each response is worth four points. Paper: The paper should be approximately 1000 words, or about 4 pages double-spaced, and will require you to philosophically defend a clear thesis, provide a reasonably strong objection to your argument, and respond to that objection. Final: The final exam will cover all of the course material and will consist of multiple choice, true/false, and short answer components. Academic Honesty: Proper citation of all sources within your written work is required. The University policy on plagiarism is available online (http://oscai.umn.edu/content/plagiarism), as are additional resources on citations and how-to guides for formal citation practices, (http://www3.crk.umn.edu/services/academicassist/writingcenter/resources/citation.htm). If you are unsure about what constitutes plagiarism, you should attend office hours to ask questions. Understanding this policy is your responsibility. Any assignment that violates the University policy will receive a grade of zero. Plagiarism is taken very seriously will result in disciplinary action by the University.

General Course Policies: Class Etiquette: Don’t do anything to disrupt other students’ attention, such as having side conversations, texting, etc. Email Communication: I will make every attempt to respond to emails within two (business) days. Office Hours: No appointment is needed for weekly office hours. Simply drop by. If you cannot make the regularly scheduled office hours, make an appointment with me via email at least 48 hours ahead of time. Additional Service: If you have a disability that requires special accommodations or other classroom modifications, please notify both Disability Services and the instructor as soon as possible. To notify Disability Services, call 612-626-1333 (on campus; x6-1333), email [email protected], or access their website at: http://ds.umn.edu/index.html Absences: Making up in-class work following any unexcused absence will not be possible. Extenuating circumstances such as illness, University sanctioned travel, etc. that result in missed work will require official documentation of the circumstance. Notify me, in writing, prior to missing class. In cases of emergency where you cannot provide notice, notify me, in writing, and provide documentation as soon as possible. Late Policy: Extenuating circumstances that may result in a missed assignment deadline may qualify for an extension, depending upon the circumstances. You must notify me 48 hours in advance of a deadline if you would like to discuss an extension or as soon as possible following the unexpected/unplanned incident that necessitated the request (hospitalization, etc.) Only under extraordinary circumstances (such as hospitalization) will extensions be given.

Reading and Assignments Date





9/11 L1 9/14 L2

Part I: Environment And Philosophy Philosophy, Value, and Nature


Introduction: Ethics and the Environment The Roots of the Crisis


9/18 L3

Respect for Nature Animal Ethics

Required RRMatthews 9/21 L4

Animal Ethics and Expanding the Moral Community

S&W Lynn White

The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis

J. Baird Callicott

Environmental Philosophy is Environmental Activism: The Most Radical and Effective Kind

Shepard Krech, III

Pleistocene Extinctions

Lyman and Merzer

Mad Cowboy: The Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat

Michael Pollan

The (Agri)Cultural Contradictions of Obesity

Bill McKibben

Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future


The Last Man


Peter Singer

All Animals are Equal


Mark Sagoff

Animal Liberation and Environmental Ethics: Bad Marriage, Quick Divorce

Dylan Matthews

Eating chicken is morally worse than killing Cecil the lion


Holmes Rolston, III

Values in and Duties to the Natural World


(continued) 1

Note: If different assignments are on contiguous pages, they are listed as a single block


Skills Assignment #1

9/25 L5


10/2 L6

10/5 L7

Christopher Stone

Should Trees Have Standing? Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects

Gary Varner

Biocentric Individualism


Mosquitos and Harm


Paul Taylor

The Ethics of Respect for Nature


David Schmitz

Are All Species Equal?


Aldo Leopold

The Land Ethic

Required RR - Naess

Arne Naess

The Shallow and the Deep, LongRange Ecology Movement: A Summary


Elliott Sober

Philosophical Problems for Environmentalism

Ramachandra Guha

Radical American Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation: A Third World Critique

Hessler and Willott

Feminism and Ecofeminism

Karen Warren

The Power and Promise of Ecofeminism

Gaard and Gruen

Ecofeminism: Toward Global Justice and Planetary Health

Kristin ShraderFrechette

Environmental Justice: Creating Equality, Reclaiming Democracy

Vandana Shiva

Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit

David Schmidtz

Natural Enemies: An Anatomy of Environmental Conflict



Required RR - Sober

10/9 L8

10/12 L9


Environmental Justice




Skills Assignment #2

10/16 L10

Part II: Understanding Nature Wilderness

10/19 L11

10/23 L12

10/26 L13

Humans and Nature: Domination

Humans and Nature: Virtue

Humans and Nature: Simplicity


Skills Assignment #3

10/30 L14

Economics and the Environment

11/2 L15

Economics and the Environment 2 Required RR – Nussbaum

Objections and Value





John Muir

Hetch Hetchy Valley

Martin Krieger

What’s Wrong With Plastic Trees

Elizabeth Willot

Restoring Nature, Without Mosquitos?

Val Plumwood

Being Prey

Freya Matthews

Letting The World Grow Old: An Ethos of Countermodernity

Michelle Nijhuis

Bonfire of the Superweeds

Ronald Sandler

Environmental Virtue Ethics

Thomas Hill, Jr.

Ideals of Human Excellence and Preserving Natural Environments

Mark Sagoff

Do We Consume Too Much?

Gambrel and Cafaro

The Virtue of Simplicity






Steven Kelman

Cost Benefit Analysis: An Ethical Critique


Andrew Brennan

Moral Pluralism and the Environment

Martha Nussbaum

The Costs of Tragedy: Some Moral Limits of Cost-Benefit Analysis

David Schmitz

A Place for Cost-Benefit Analysis


11/6 L16 11/9 L17

11/13 L18

11/16 L19


Garret Hardin

The Tragedy of the Commons

David Schmitz

The Institution of Property

Carol Rose

Liberty, Property, and Environmentalism

Dan Shahar

Free-Market Environmentalism

Case Study: Kruger

David Schmitz

When Preservation Doesn’t Preserve

Required RR – S&W


Reinventing the Commons: An African Case Study

Population Ethics


Intro: Population Bomb

Peter Singer

Famine, Affluence, and Morality

Garrett Hardin

Living on a Lifeboat

Scarcity 2






Skills Assignment #4

Humans and Nature


11/20 L20

Part III: Responding to Holmes Rolston, III Environmental Problems Henry Shue Population Ethics

Feeding People Versus Saving Nature


11/23 L21

11/27 11/30 L22

Climate Change: The Science

Global Environmental and International Inequality

Elizabeth Willott

Recent Population Trends


Executive Summary

Nicholas Stern, et al.

The Stern Review

Thanksgiving Holiday Climate Change

No class Dale Jamieson

Required RR Gardiner

Stephen Gardiner

Ethics, Public Policy, and Global Warming A Perfect Moral Storm



12/4 L23

12/7 L24

12/11 L25

12/14 L26


Climate Change: Applying Philosophy

Cities and Energy


Environmental Activism and Philosophy: Cases and Problems

Final Exam

Andrew Light

Climate Ethics For Climate Action

John Christy

Testimony, U.S. House Ways and Means Committee

Jessica Woolliams

Designing Cities and Buildings as if They Were Ethical Choices

Lynn Scarlett

Making Waste Management Pay

Robert Glennon

Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It

Garland Cox


Tom Fournier

Air Pollution Abatement Strategies

Gary Comstock

Ethics and Genetically Modified Foods

Thompson and Hannah

Novel and Normal Risk: Where Does Nanotechnology Fit In

Paul Watson

Tora! Tora! Tora!

Kate Rawles

The Missing Shade of Green

Andrew Light

Taking Environmental Ethics Public

1:30-3:30 p.m.

Location: Blegen 235 (Note this is a Saturday Exam)






Environmental Ethics - ClassInfo

Phil 3301: Environmental Ethics Instructor: Fareed Awan Fall 2015 Blegen Hall 235 MF 1:00-2:15pm Email: [email protected] Office: 858 Heller Hall Offi...

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