Philosophy of the Environment (PHIL*2070) | College of Arts

Philosophy of the Environment (PHIL*2070)

Code and section: PHIL*2070*01

Term: Winter 2018

Instructor: Karen Houle


This course is an introduction to environmental philosophy. It assumes no prior study of philosophy. We will focus first on "ethical theory" comparing theories of values and meaning across the Western tradition of moral theory (Deontology, Virtue Ethics and Consequentialism), and also between Western views about the nature of value and meaning and the same as expressed implicitly and explicitly in 4 global case studies involving Indigenous environmental resistance. When we move to look more closely at environmental ethics (which is a sub-domain of ethical theory) we will attempt to apply those different theories (aka frameworks or paradigms) and their particular concepts and views of the nature of "the Good" such as "rights", "harm", "compassion" – to issues like water, pollution, food waste, sustainability, species depletion, future generations' health, etc. What we are trying to do is learn the complex, multi-layered background "value architecture" that normative judgment about these issues rests upon; to understand their specificity, their limits and their possibilities; and thus how to most intelligently and effectively make use of those value paradigms to argue for or against, and-or to carry out, certain courses of action for ourselves and others. 

Course Outline