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Environmental Ethics Syllabus

Environmental Ethics Syllabus

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Published by AnthonyPaulSmith
A syllabus for an environmental ethics course at DePaul University.
A syllabus for an environmental ethics course at DePaul University.

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Published by: AnthonyPaulSmith on Feb 03, 2013
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08/08/2013

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1
EnvironmentalEthics
(ENV170‐301)McGowanSouthRoom206[TU/TH4:20pm‐5:50pm]Instructor:Dr.AnthonyPaulSmith(anthonypaul.smith@gmail.com)773‐931‐9570(cell)Officehours:Byappointmentonly
CourseDescription
Ourageisdominatedbyacontradiction:ontheonehandwearebombardedeverydaywithapocalyptictalesrelatedtoglobalclimatechange,andontheotherhandthereappearstobenomarshallingofsignificantcollectivewillrequiredtodealwiththeproblem.Thereasonforthislackofwillmaylieinlargepartwithafailureonthepartofourthinkingandthusaddressingourimplicitethicalreasoningconcerningtheenvironmentmayaidatleastalittleinturningthetideofenvironmentaldegradation.Foritmaybethatoneaspectoftheenvironmentwehavedamagedisourthinkingitself.Togettogripswiththechallengespresentedtophilosophybytheecologicalcrisiswewillbeginbylookingattworecentenvironmentaldisasters,the2010gulfoilspillandthe2011Fukushimanucleardisaster.Wewillthenexaminetraditionalapproacheswithinethicalphilosophygearedtowardsthinkingthroughenvironmentalproblemsbeforeturningtosubsidiaryissueswithinenvironmentalethics.Thesewillincludeanimalethics,thecloselyrelatedethicsoffood,andtheethicalproblemspresentedbyagrowinghumanpopulationandthecontinuedurbanizationofourspecies.Wewillthenturnourattentiontocriticismsofthesetraditionalformsofenvironmentalethicsinthehopesofseeinghowanew,moreadequateethicaltheorycouldbeformed.Theclassisasurveyandthusattheendweasaclasswillhavegrappledwithanumberoftraditionsofthought,theformsofwhichyouwillbeabletoidentifyinpublicdebatessurroundingtheissuesoutsideoftheclassroom,andthenseewherethesetraditionalformsofthinkinghavefailedus.Youwillalsoseeissuesandethicalproblemsthatmaynothavebeenapparenttoyoupriortothecourseandbechallengedinyourownpersonalpracticesasyoucometoseeyourselfasanecologicallyembeddedsubject.Finallywewillseesomeofthelatestattemptstorethinkourveryactofthinkingecologicallyinordertomovepasttheimpasseofthetraditionaldebates.
LearningOutcomes
Uponcompletingthecoursethestudentshouldbeableto:
 
engagephilosophicallywithenvironmentalproblems;
 
identifyandexplainthedifferentethicalpositionspresentinenvironmentalism;
 
beabletoidentifythecentralthemesandargumentsofthetextsandstatetheminaclearandsympatheticwayinclassdiscussion;
 
beabletoformulatecriticismsinawaythatisattentivetotheoriginalauthor’sintentandargumentation.
GradeSummary
Therewillbetwotests(comprisedofshort‐answerquestionsandessayquestions),seminardiscussions,andafinalpaper(10‐pages,double‐spaced).Eachtestwillcountfor25%(foratotalof50%)ofyourfinalgrade,thefinalpaperwillcountfor35%,andfinally15%forseminar/classparticipation(whichincludesattendance).
 
2
Itisimportantthatyoudonotmissaclassandespeciallyanexam.Anymake‐upforthein‐classexamswillonlybegivenduetoextremesituations,andthisisdoneveryrarely.
Youmusthavepriorpermissionfromtheinstructortotakeamake-up
.ThepaperisdueviaDesire2Learn(clickthe“Dropbox”tab)ormyemailbytheendoftheday(11:59PM)on
Wednesday,June6
th
.
Thepaperistobesubmittedelectronicallyonly 
.
IpreferthatthepaperbeaPDF.
Detailsconcerningthepaper(itsformatandcontent)willbepassedoutafterthefirstexam.Latepaperswillnotbeaccepted.Cheating/plagiarismwillbedealtwithastheseriousinfractionsthattheyare,possiblyleadingtofailure;seetheStudentHandbookfordetails.
CellPhoneandLaptopPolicy
WhileIunderstandtheaddictiontocellphones,especiallysmartphones,thematerialwearestudyingisverydifficultandthereforerequiresyourundividedattention.Ifyouarecaughtusingyourphoneduringalectureyouwillbegivenonewarning(eitherverballyorbyemail).Ifyouarecaughtasecondtimeormoreyouwillfaceareductionoffivepointsforeachoffensefromyourhighestscoringpieceofcoursework.
Pleaseturnallcellphonesoffduringthelecture
.IfIcandoit,socanyou.
Laptopsareacceptableintheclass,butfornotetakingonly.Ifyouappearnottobepayingattentionbecauseyou’redistractedbysomethingnon‐lecturerelatedonyourlaptopthenIwillaskyoutoreadthelastlineofnotesyouhavejustwritten.Ifyoucan’tthenyouwillbegivenawarning(eitherverballyorbyemail).Ifyouarecaughtasecondtimeormoreyouwillfaceareductionoffivepointsforeachoffensefromyourhighestscoringpieceofcoursework.
Desire2Learn
PleasemakesurethatyouchecktheemailattachedtoyourDesire2Learnprofile.Iwillbesendingemailstothataddress.Allcoursedocuments,powerpoints,audiooflectures,andotherhelpfullinkswillbeavailableontheDesire2Learncoursepage.
RemarksonLectures,Readings,Films,andClassroomDiscussions
Wearedealingwithadultthemesandarangeofdifferentbeliefsystemsinthisclass.Youwillbeexposedtodifferentwaysofthinkingbothinthereadings,thelectures,anddiscussionsinclass.Attimesyoumayfindyourselfoffendedbyoneormoreoftheideaspresentedandwhenyouarenotoffendedafellowclassmatemaywellbe.Thisisok!Whileofcourseverbalorphysicalabuseisstrictlynottolerated,wehavetogiveeachotherpermissiontobeoffensive(withintheboundsofrespectfuldiscourse)andtobeoffended.Byremaininginthiscourseyouareagreeingtohaverespectfulconversationsaboutawiderangeofdifferentbeliefs.
Thisgoesespeciallyforthefilmsandclipswewillwatchinclass.AttimesIhavechosenmaterialthatmaybeoffensivetosome.Somefilmswillberated‐RandsomeclipsfromTVshowswillberatedTV‐MA.Byremainingenrolledinthisclassafterthefirstsessionyouareenteringintoanon‐verbalagreementthatyouunderstandandacceptyouwillbeaskedtowatchthesefilmsandclips.
RequiredTexts

 
Coursereader(foundonD2L)withselectionsfrom:
o
 
MurrayBookchin,
SocialEcologyandCommunalism
(AKPress)
 
GilbertSimondon,
TwoLessonsonAnimalandMan
(Univocal)
 
AndrewLightandHolmesRolstonIII(editors),
EnvironmentalEthics:An Anthology
(Blackwell)
 
AldoLeopold,
SandCountryAlmanacandSketchesHereandThere
(OxfordUP)
 
3
 
TimothyMorton,
TheEcologicalThought
(OxfordUP)
ExtraCredit
Youmaychooseabookorauthorfromthelistbelowandwriteabookreport(orsimilarreportontheworkofanartistorartists).Afterreadingthebook,
whichyoumustneverhavereadbefore
,youwillwritea
bookreport 
ofapproximately1,000to1,250wordsthatisilluminatedbyyourunderstandingofthevarioustheoreticalperspectivesonnatureandtheenvironmentthatwediscussduringthequarter.Itmayaddupto20pointstoyourfinalgrade.
Hereisalongunsystematic,idiosyncratic,bynomeansexhaustivelistofbooksthatyoumayconsiderforyourextra‐creditreport;ifyouwishtoreportonabooknotfromthislist,pleaseconfirmyourselectionwithmeinadvance:HenryDavidThoreau:choosefromanyofhisnumeroussuitableworks,including
Walden
and
TheMaineWoods
,orfromoneofthemanyavailableanthologiesRalphWaldoEmerson:
Nature
andotherrelevantessays,availableinvariousanthologiesofEmerson’sworkJohnMuir:choosefromanyofthenumerousworksbyoneofthefoundersofthepreservationmovement,e.g.,
MyFirstSummerintheSierra
,
TheMountainsofCalifornia
and
OurNationalParks
,orelseselectananthologysuchas
NatureWritings
WilliamWordsworth:
ThePrelude
;orthenumerousanthologiesofhispoetryandprose,includingperhapshisguidetotheLakeDistrictofEnglandJohnRuskin:the19
th
‐centuryEnglishartcriticandsocialtheoristwrotealsoonenvironmentalissuesandtheeffectsofindustrializationandurbanization;Iknowofnoworkdedicatedtotheseconcernsalone;however,referencestospecificessaysbyRuskincanbefoundin
RuskinandEnvironment:TheStorm-CloudoftheNineteenthCentury 
,editedbyMichaelWheeler.AnnieDillard:
PilgrimatTinkerCreek 
—PulitzerPrize‐winningmeditationsonthenaturalworldTerryTempestWilliams:
Refuge
—memoirbyaMormonfeministenvironmentalistpeaceactivistMichaelPollan:
SecondNature:AGardener’sEducation
—confrontingnatureinyouryard;or
TheBotanyofDesire
—howplants(theappletree,cannabis,thepotatoandthetulip)domesticatedhumans;or
TheOmnivore’sDilemma:ANaturalHistoryofFourMeals
—fromMcDonald’s,WholeFoods,asustainablefarmandthewild.BillMcKibben:
TheEndofNature
—present‐dayAdirondackeco‐sageEdwardAbbey:
DesertSolitaire:ASeasonintheWilderness
—thereflectionsofaneco‐curmudgeonGarySnyder:
ThePracticeoftheWild 
—acollectionofessaysbythePulitzerPrize‐winningpoetandcounter‐culturehero,theguywhointroducedJackKerouacandtheBeatgenerationtoZenBuddhismBarryLopez:
 ArcticDreams:ImaginationandDesireinaNorthernLandscape
—bytheguywhowrotethewolfbookBillBryson:
 AWalkintheWoods
—ahumoristhikingtheAppalachianTrailBruceChatwin:
TheSonglines
—theresultofhistravelsamongtheAustralianAborigines

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