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Environmentalism and the Idea of ‘Nature’

Environmentalism, both in theory and practice, has traditionally been concerned with nature, above all else. The environment spoken of by environmentalists and environmental philosophers is the natural environment; the built environment, even though most of us actually live in, is not generally part of their concern. One of the ways this focus on nature is expressed is through the centrality of the concept of wilderness (and wilderness preservation). Environmental damage has meant damage done to nature or the wilderness by human beings; the destruction of something built by humans, e.g., a building or a bridge, does not by itself count as an environmental damage. (Of course, such destruction may have harmful environmental consequences, but this is only because such consequences are harmful to nature). This lecture is interested in philosophically unpacking the conception of nature that underpins the ethic of wilderness preservation – in particular the dichotomous way it understands the relation between human beings and the non-human (natural) world – as well as exploring some of its (possibly problematic) moral implications.

Faculty Member: John Fennell
Discussion Date: Oct. 17 at 11 a.m. 

Meet Professor Fennell

Ph.D. Northwestern University B.A. and M.A. University of Melbourne (Australia)

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Monday October 17
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
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Virtual Alumni College - Environmentalism and the Idea of ‘Nature’:
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