Environmental philosophy: reason, nature and human concern

Belshaw, Christopher (2001). Environmental philosophy: reason, nature and human concern. UK, Canada: Acumen and McGill-Queens University Press.

URL: http://www.mqup.mcgill.ca/book.php?bookid=472


As anxiety about environmental change and its effects grows, we need to understand both the scientific processes and the ethical and aesthetic judgments involved in deciding which changes we should welcome and promote and which we should try to avoid. In Environmental Philosophy Christopher Belshaw examines the current debates on the environment, focusing on questions of value while also taking into account relevant issues in epistemology and metaphysics.
Beginning with an overview of current concerns, Belshaw locates our attitudes toward the environment within their cultural and historical milieu. He then examines the various positions in detail, ranging from the moderate view that we ought to consider not only ourselves but also other animals, to the seemingly more extravagant contention that non-sentient life, rocks, deserts B indeed all of the processes of nature B should be considered intrinsically valuable. In later chapters Belshaw explores the importance of an aesthetic response to the environment, opening the way for a human-centred position that is both more generous and more flexible than those often advanced elsewhere.
In contrast to many of its competitors, Environmental Philosophy challenges accepted dichotomies - man/nature, instrumental/intrinsic, green/non-green - and advocates conciliation rather than confrontation. Although the arguments are rigorous, the writing is clear and non-technical, making Environmental Philosophy an excellent survey for those engaging with these issues for the first time, as well as offering much to challenge the more advanced student.

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