Rethinking the Heidegger-Deep Ecology Relationship

Zimmerman, Michael E.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 15/3 (1993), pages 195-224

Recent disclosures regarding the relationship between Heidegger’s thought and his own version of National Socialism have led me to rethink my earlier efforts to portray Heidegger as a forerunner of deep ecology. His political problems have provided ammunition for critics, such as Murray Bookchin, who regard deep ecology as a reactionary movement. In this essay, I argue that, despite some similarities, Heidegger’s thought and deep ecology are in many ways incompatible, in part because deep ecologists—in spite of their criticism of the ecologically destructive character of technological modernity—generally support a “progressive” idea of human evolution.

Further Problems with Neoclassical Environmental Economics

Gowdy, John M.; Olsen, Peg R.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 16/2 (1994), pages 161-171

We examine the merits of neoclassical environmental economics and discuss alternative approaches to it. We argue that the basic assumptions of the neoclassical approach, embodied in the indifference curve, make that model inappropriate for environmental analysis. We begin by assuming that the basic postulates of the neoclassical model hold and then argue that even this ideal state is incompatible with environmental sustainability. We discuss the role of the discount rate, the exclusive emphasis on marginal choices, and the assumption of perfect information.

Convergence and Contextualism: Some Clarifications and a Reply to Steverson

Norton, Bryan G.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 19/1 (1997), pages 87-100

The convergence hypothesis asserts that, if one takes the full range of human values—present and future—into account, one will choose a set of policies that can also be accepted by an advocate of a consistent and reasonable nonanthropocentrism. Brian Steverson has attacked this hypothesis from a surprising direction. He attributes to deep ecologists the position that nonhuman nature has intrinsic value, interprets this position to mean that no species could ever be allowed to go extinct, and proceeds to show that my commitment to contextualism prohibits me from advocating the protection of species universally. In response, I show, by reference to recent scientific findings, how difficult it is to defend species preservation in all situations. In particular, I argue that Steverson’s appeal to a possible world in which we have nearly complete biological knowledge misses the point of the convergence hypothesis. It is an empirical hypothesis, with significant indirect, and some direct, evidence to support it. Although it is a falsifiable hypothesis about realworld policies, it cannot be falsified by a contrary-to-fact case.

Class, Race, and Gender Discourse in the Ecofeminism/Deep Ecology Debate

Salleh, Ariel
Environmental Ethics Vol. 15/3 (1993), pages 225-244

While both ecofeminism and deep ecology share a commitment to overcoming the conventional division between humanity and nature, a major difference between the two is that deep ecology brings little social analysis to its environmental ethic. I argue that there are ideological reasons for this difference. Applying a sociology of knowledge and discourse analysis to deep ecological texts to uncover these reasons, I conclude that deep ecology is constrained by political attitudes meaningful to white-male, middle-class professionals whose thought is not grounded in the labor of daily maintenance and survival. At a micro-political level, this masculinist orientation is revealed by an armory of defensive discursive strategies and techniques used in deep ecological responses to ecofeminist criticism.

Schweitzer Reconsidered: The Applicability of Reverence for Life as Environmental Philosophy

Goodin, David K.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 29/4 (2007), pages 403-21

As the last great philosopher of the will, Albert Schweitzer rejected the radical individualism of Nietzsche and the pessimistic-mystical detachment of Schopenhauer, and instead sought to create a true social ethic. Schweitzer’s particular contribution was to move further than Nietzsche to reconcile philosophy with natural science while simultaneously preserving and transforming the sense of mysticism and higher world-order principles from Schopenhauer. He joined this new cosmology to the virtue ethics of Aristotle, and recovered one key element of his ontology of becoming to transcend the Humean “is/ought” gap for ethics. The result is a philosophy that is as much biographical of Schweitzer himself as it is systematic. This result is both the strength and greatest weakness of his reverence-for-life ethic. It is tailor-made for contemporary environmental ethics: it has applications in many strands of environmental thought, including deep ecology, ecofeminism, and ecotheology, and may attract considerable interest from environmental movements that seek to cultivate deep personal conviction.