Summary of "Reflecting on Nature: Readings in Environmental Philosophy"

Summary of

Reflecting on Nature: Readings in Environmental Philosophy

By Lori Gruen & Dale Jamieson

Summary written by T.A. O'Lonergan, Conflict Research Consortium

Citation: Reflecting on Nature: Readings in Environmental Philosophy, Lori Gruen & Dale Jamieson, (eds), (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 362 pp.

Reflecting on Nature: Readings in Environmental Philosophy will be of interest to those who seek an understanding of the philosophical basis for both images and treatment of the natural environment. The book is divided into five sections, the first of which is concerned with images of nature. Lynn White's examination of the historical roots of the current ecological crisis serves as an overview of this section. Included are selections from Aristotle, Locke and Darwin. After selections from Muir, Leopold and Thoreau the editors offer pivotal works by Botkin, Shiva and Gould.

Section II is an examination of the relationship between ethics and the environment. Topics of this section include a discussion by Williams questioning the necessity of concern for the environment being human centered. Kenneth P. Goodpaster focuses upon moral considerability. This is followed by Holmes Rolston III's examination of values in and duties to the natural world. Thomas E. Hill Jr. concludes this section with consideration of the relationship between the ideals of human excellence and preservation of the natural environment. Section III addresses alternative perspectives on environmental philosophy. After an examination of deep ecology and radical environmentalism, Robert D. Bullard examines "Environmental Blackmail in Minority Communities". Val Plumwood offers: an examination of feminism, environmental philosophy and a critique of rationalism.

Section IV examines sustainable development and international justice. The proceedings of four global gatherings include: the UN Conference on the Environment, and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. A consideration of free market environmentalism and Rajni Kothari's "Environment, technology and ethics" conclude the section.

Section V considers contemporary issues and controversies with four sub-sections: wilderness preservation, animals, population and consumption, and biodiversity. The first subsection includes J. Baird Callicott's "The Wilderness Revisited" and Rolston's reaffirmation of the wilderness idea. The editors contribute to the consideration of animals with an excerpt form Gruen's "Animals" and Jamieson's "Against Zoos". Anne and Paul Ehrlich contribute to the examination of the relationship between population and consumption. They are also featured in the subsection on biodiversity along with Elliott Sober's contribution from "Philosophical Problems for Environmentalism".

Reflecting on Nature: Readings in Environmental Philosophy is a nicely arranged collection of philosophical thought on the natural world. It offers a balance of ancient, enlightenment and contemporary thought.