Fall 2017  -  Get temporary access to course materials (Amherst College and Five-college students only)

The Value of Nature

Listed in: First Year Seminar, as FYSE-101

Faculty

Rachel A. Levin (Section 01)

Description

Our impact on the environment has been large, and in recent decades the pace of change has clearly accelerated, with the effects of climate change now being experienced around the world. Many species face extinction, forests are disappearing, and toxic wastes and emissions accumulate. The prospect of a general environmental calamity seems all too real.

This sense of crisis has spurred intense and wide-ranging debate over what our proper relationship to nature should be. This debate will be the focus of the seminar. Among the questions we shall explore will be: What obligations, if any, do we have to non-human animals, to living organisms like trees, to ecosystems as a whole, and to future generations of humans? Do animals have rights we ought to respect? Is nature intrinsically valuable or merely a bundle of utilities for our benefit? Is there even a stable notion of “what is natural” that can be deployed in a workable environmental ethic? We will investigate these and related questions with readings from diverse literature.

This is a discussion-based seminar, with close attention to writing. The seminar’s goal is to sharpen the ability to critically think and write argumentatively, but also flexibly, about nature and our attitudes towards it.

Fall semester. Senior Lecturer Levin.

 

Keywords

Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing

Offerings

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012