PHIL 243-DL1: Global Environmental Ethics (Spring 2022)
Section Information for Spring 2022
This course fulfills the Mason Core requirement for a course on 'Global Understanding'.
When Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962, the environmental movement was itself relatively silent. Today, however, environmentalism is among the most pressing and prominent issues in public discourse—both local and global.
Issues like global climate change in the wake of unprecedented climate and ecological shifts, air pollution in Delhi going literally off the chart, plastic waste choking domestic and international waters, the throes of the sixth great extinction, and the unsustainability of the consumption practices of ordinary folks like you and me—all this and more receives sustained public attention. Businesses scramble to cash in on the new appeal of being green. We’re undergoing a transformation as large and significant as the industrial revolution at the speed of the digital revolution. Governments and policy makers scramble to cope with these changes, and the environment has come to dominate international affairs.
This course will focus on both the moral and global political dimensions of these issues. We will read authors foundational to the environmental movement as well as contemporary moral philosophers on the nature of humans’ relationship to non-human nature. We will carefully analyze the nature of global negotiations and environmental policy formation so as to better understand major events like the UNFCCC’s Paris Agreement and subsequent COP meetings.
Key to our analysis will be questions concerning global justice and what it demands of international policy. In addition to this macro-level examination, we will drill down to the personal level: What responsibilities do you have to other humans, plants, animals, and ecosystems, and how do these responsibilities bear on your personal lifestyle? Jumping into the midst of a complex and interdisciplinary brawl, you will learn to write clearly and effectively on one of today’s most salient issues.
Examines the global dimensions of environmental problems. Although environmental problems are global in reach, because different societies make different philosophical and ethical assumptions, they are understood in different ways. Examines several environmental problems, including climate change, population growth, and resource depletion, from a variety of scientific, policy, and cross-cultural perspectives. Limited to three attempts.
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