Fall 2018

Environmental Philosophy

Listed in: Environmental Studies, as ENST-228  |  Philosophy, as PHIL-225

Formerly listed as: ENST-28  |  PHIL-25


Jessica N. Hejny (Section 01)
Joseph G. Moore (Section 01)


(Offered as PHIL 225 and ENST 228) Our impact on the environment has been significant, and in recent decades the pace of change has clearly accelerated. 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 is the focus of the course. 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? Do our answers to these questions result in some way from a culturally contingent “image” we have of nature and our place within it? How might we best go about changing the ways we inhabit the planet?

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professors Moore and Hejny.

If Overenrolled: Priority will be given first to declared Philosophy and Environmental Studies majors. Next priority will be given to students with previous experience in one of these areas.


Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2018