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College of Science & Mathematics

Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies Colloquium

Date: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 @ 3:15pm


The Department of Philosophy & Religion is hosting a lecture entitled "Four Environmental Virtues" as presented by Dr. David Clowney.  The lecture will be held from 3:15-4:30pm and is open to the campus community.

Global environmental harms are so serious that they threaten to extinguish a large percentage of living species by the end of the century, and to create a much more dangerous and inhospitable world for our grandchildren. This is the general scientific consensus, and we have every reason to believe it. But nations and individuals seem unwilling to do much about it. Why is that? Perhaps our way of thinking about ethics is partly to blame. The philosopher Dale Jamieson points to our individualized sense of responsibility, according to which, in his words, "harms and their causes are individual, … they can readily be identified, and … their causes are local in space and time." By contrast, environmental harms like climate change and biodiversity loss are global, and their causes are multiple, dispersed in space and time, and often unknown until the harm they generate is wide-spread and long-lasting if not irreversible. Hence, says Jamieson, "Today we face the possibility that the global environment may be destroyed, yet no-one will be responsible" (Jamieson 2002, 293).

One remedy Jamieson suggests is attention to character. We need, he says, to "nurture and give new content to some old virtues . . . and perhaps develop some new virtues." In this talk Professor Clowney explores the prospects for this approach to environmental ethics by considering four possible environmental virtues, some old and some new: critical awareness, moderation, biophilia, and concern for the future.



Location: Education Hall, Room 1112

Contact: Youru Wang