The Moral Austerity of Environmental Decision Making: Sustainability, Democracy, and Normative Argument in Policy and Law

Duke University Press
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In The Moral Austerity of Environmental Decision Making a group of prominent environmental ethicists, policy analysts, political theorists, and legal experts challenges the dominating influence of market principles and assumptions on the formulation of environmental policy. Emphasizing the concept of sustainability and the centrality of moral deliberation to democracy, they examine the possibilities for a wider variety of moral principles to play an active role in defining “good” environmental decisions. If environmental policy is to be responsible to humanity and to nature in the twenty-first century, they argue, it is imperative that the discourse acknowledge and integrate additional normative assumptions and principles other than those endorsed by the market paradigm.
The contributors search for these assumptions and principles in short arguments and debates over the role of science, social justice, instrumental value, and intrinsic value in contemporary environmental policy. In their discussion of moral alternatives to enrich environmental decision making and in their search for a less austere and more robust role for normative discourse in practical policy making, they analyze a series of original case studies that deal with environmental sustainability and natural resources policy including pollution, land use, environmental law, globalism, and public lands. The unique structure of the book—which features the core contributors responding in a discourse format to the central chapters’ essays and debates—helps to highlight the role personal and public values play in democratic decision making generally and in the field of environmental politics specifically.

Contributors. Joe Bowersox, David Brower, Susan Buck, Celia Campbell-Mohn, John Martin Gillroy, Joel Kassiola, Jan Laitos, William Lowry, Bryan Norton, Robert Paehlke, Barry G. Rabe, Mark Sagoff, Anna K. Schwab, Bob Pepperman Taylor, Jonathan Wiener

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About the author

John Martin Gillroy is MacArthur Professor of Environmental Policy and Law at Bucknell University.

Joe Bowersox is Associate Professor of Politics at Willamette University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Jun 17, 2002
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Pages
397
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ISBN
9780822383468
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Science / Environmental Science
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Environmental issues raise crucial questions. What should we value? What is our place in nature? What kind of life should we live? How should we interact with other living things? Environmental management and policy-making is ultimately based on answers to these and similar questions, but do we need a new ethics to be able overcome the environmental crisis we face? This book addresses these important questions and explores the values that decision-makers often presuppose in their environmental policy-making. Examining the content of the ethics of sustainable development that the UN and the world’s governments want us to embrace, this book examines alternatives to this kind of ethics, and the differences in basic values that these make in practice. Offering a detailed analysis of the ethics that lie behind current policy-making as it is expressed in documents such as Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration, this unique contribution to the field of environmental studies shows how different environmental ethical theories support different goals of environmental management and generate different policies when it comes to population growth, agriculture, and preservation and management of wilderness areas and endangered species. Mikael Stenmark concludes that policy-makers must take more seriously the value assumptions and conflicts connected to environmental issues, and state explicitly on what values their own proposals and decisions are based and why these should be accepted. Those studying environmental issues or environmental philosophy will find this accessible text invaluable in presenting a clear understanding of environmental ethics and contemporary applications and policies.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, a great confidence suffused America. Isaac Cline was one of the era's new men, a scientist who believed he knew all there was to know about the motion of clouds and the behavior of storms. The idea that a hurricane could damage the city of Galveston, Texas, where he was based, was to him preposterous, "an absurd delusion." It was 1900, a year when America felt bigger and stronger than ever before. Nothing in nature could hobble the gleaming city of Galveston, then a magical place that seemed destined to become the New York of the Gulf.

That August, a strange, prolonged heat wave gripped the nation and killed scores of people in New York and Chicago. Odd things seemed to happen everywhere: A plague of crickets engulfed Waco. The Bering Glacier began to shrink. Rain fell on Galveston with greater intensity than anyone could remember. Far away, in Africa, immense thunderstorms blossomed over the city of Dakar, and great currents of wind converged. A wave of atmospheric turbulence slipped from the coast of western Africa. Most such waves faded quickly. This one did not.

In Cuba, America's overconfidence was made all too obvious by the Weather Bureau's obsession with controlling hurricane forecasts, even though Cuba's indigenous weathermen had pioneered hurricane science. As the bureau's forecasters assured the nation that all was calm in the Caribbean, Cuba's own weathermen fretted about ominous signs in the sky. A curious stillness gripped Antigua. Only a few unlucky sea captains discovered that the storm had achieved an intensity no man alive had ever experienced.

In Galveston, reassured by Cline's belief that no hurricane could seriously damage the city, there was celebration. Children played in the rising water. Hundreds of people gathered at the beach to marvel at the fantastically tall waves and gorgeous pink sky, until the surf began ripping the city's beloved beachfront apart. Within the next few hours Galveston would endure a hurricane that to this day remains the nation's deadliest natural disaster. In Galveston alone at least 6,000 people, possibly as many as 10,000, would lose their lives, a number far greater than the combined death toll of the Johnstown Flood and 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

And Isaac Cline would experience his own unbearable loss.

Meticulously researched and vividly written, Isaac's Storm is based on Cline's own letters, telegrams, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the hows and whys of great storms. Ultimately, however, it is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets nature's last great uncontrollable force. As such, Isaac's Storm carries a warning for our time.
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography
A New York Times 2016 Notable Book
National Best Seller
Named one of TIME magazine’s "100 Most Influential People"
An Amazon Top 20 Best Book of 2016
A Washington Post Best Memoir of 2016
A TIME and Entertainment Weekly Best Book of 2016

An illuminating debut memoir of a woman in science; a moving portrait of a longtime friendship; and a stunningly fresh look at plants that will forever change how you see the natural world
 
Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also so much more.

Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s remarkable stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work.

Yet at the core of this book is the story of a relationship Jahren forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them from the Midwest across the United States and back again, over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home.

Jahren’s probing look at plants, her astonishing tenacity of spirit, and her acute insights on nature enliven every page of this extraordinary book. Lab Girl opens your eyes to the beautiful, sophisticated mechanisms within every leaf, blade of grass, and flower petal. Here is an eloquent demonstration of what can happen when you find the stamina, passion, and sense of sacrifice needed to make a life out of what you truly love, as you discover along the way the person you were meant to be.
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