[SydPhil] Philosophy Seminar Announcement - University of Wollongong

David Neil dneil at uow.edu.au
Wed Mar 6 22:00:01 AEDT 2013

Professor Mark Colyvan will be presenting the first talk in the UOW philosophy programme seminar series for 2013.

University of Wollongong, Tuesday 12th March, 4:30 p.m. Room 19.1003.

All welcome. Enquiries to David Neil:  dneil at uow.edu.au<mailto:dneil at uow.edu.au>

Environmental Philosophy: Beyond Environmental Ethics

Mark Colyvan
Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science
University of Sydney

Abstract: There are many interesting philosophical issues associated with the science and policy of conserving our natural environment. Despite much of the philosophical work being passed off as environmental ethics, it is clear that the issues in question go well beyond anything that can reasonably be thought of as belonging to ethics. A great deal of the philosophical work required involves epistemology and decision theory. Moreover, this is no mere terminological issue. Misconstruing the nature of the issues in question and the tools available to deal with them can result in sub-optimal environmental outcomes. Once we disentangle the various philosophical issues in question, the proper role of environmental ethics, and environmental philosophy more generally, becomes clearer. The central focus of environmental ethics, I will argue, ought to be that of how to implement ethical environmental strategies in the face of uncertainty – uncertainty both about how the world is and about the relevant values. But the proper representation of the uncertainties in question is the business of epistemology, and the proper framework for making the decisions in question is the business of decision theory. Thinking that either of these latter issues falls within the purview of environmental ethics is a dangerous mistake.

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