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ENVIRONMENTAL PHILOSOPHY

David Schwartz, dschwartz@randolphcollege.edu

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION 
This seminar explores fundamental questions about humanity’s relationship to nature and the environment.  What exactly is ‘nature?’  Do humans live inside or outside of nature?  Do we have moral obligations to other species and to ecosystems, or only to other humans?   To explore these questions, students will read and discuss both philosophical and scientific writings about the meaning of nature, humanity’s relation to the natural world, the mental capacities and moral standing of other animals, and holistic theories of environmental value such as the Gaia Hypothesis.    On a practical level, students will explore examples from the emerging environmental practice of ‘re-wilding,’ which attempts to restore ecosystem health by re-introducing top predators and endangered/extinct species back into ecosystems where they existed prior to human influence.   

 

READINGS AND TEXTS
Catching Fire: How Cooking Made us Human.  Richard Wrangham, Basic Books, 2009.

Rewilding North America: A Vision for Conservation in the 21st Century. Dave Foreman. Island Press, 2004. 

The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and the Partners that Shape Who We Are Today.  Rob Dunn, Harper Books, 2011.

Environmental Ethics: An Anthology.  Light and Rolston, eds.  Blackwell Publishing, 2003.

 

FILMS AND OTHER COURSE MATERIALS
TBD

 

STUDENT REQUIREMENTS
Weekly reading and writing assignments; two formal essays.

 

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
David Schwartz is the Garrey Carruthers Chair for fall 2017.  In real life, he is the Mary Frances Williams Chair of Humanities and Philosophy at Randolph College, in Virginia.  His scholarly interests include ethics, environmental philosophy, and the philosophy of art.  Most recently, he published the second edition of a book on consumer ethics, Consuming Choices: Ethics in a Global Consumer Age.  He has also written a book on public support for the arts.  When not philosophizing, he enjoys working on -- and driving -- his mobile work of art, "The Ant Car".