PHIL 13 – Philosophy, Nature and the Environment

PHIL 13 – Philosophy, Nature and the Environment


Peter Wolf

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Time Offered:


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Spring 2024

What is nature, and what is the appropriate human relationship with it? What are our obligations toward non-human animals, endangered species, or ecosystems? Is contemporary industrial society alienated from nature, and, if so, what should be done about this? What alternatives for living differently are genuinely available to us today? These questions are addressed through discussion of current environmental issues (e.g., consumerism, agriculture, wilderness protection, environmental justice, climate change, environmental activism) as well as influential historical and contemporary philosophical approaches, such as deep ecology, social ecology, ecofeminism, bioregionalism, and eco-phenomenology.
PHIL 13 Philosophy, Nature, and the Environment (3) (GH)(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements. This course familiarizes students with concepts regarding the central and very old philosophical problem of describing and understanding nature and the place of human beings in it. This philosophical discourse has evolved in the past 25 years into a firm sub-discipline of philosophy itself, usually under the title of "Environmental Philosophy" or "Philosophy of nature." The discipline addresses a complex of crucial problems of contemporary society, politics, and ethics revolving around the relation of human beings and the environment. Students will learn the various and conflicting views on nature and the environment, and they will develop the ability to critically navigate these various positions as well as the assumptions underlying the contemporary environmental debate. Students will be graded on participation, case study analyses, a group presentation and response, and a final paper. PHIL 13 satisfies the GH requirement and is geared towards non-Philosophy majors. It may be used to fulfill minor requirements in philosophy. This course is offered once a year with an enrollment of 50-200 students.


Arts and Humanities