education

ERIE Research Projects

Deep Intentional Environmental Value

Participants:

ERIE Fellow:Robert Earle, Department of Philosophy
Faculty:Ken Shockley, Department of Philosophy

Summary:

Since the emergence of environmental ethics as a subfield of academic philosophy in the 1970’s, scholars have focused on atomistic accounts of value, assuming “values” to adhere in discrete individual entities. Scholars have attempted to demonstrate the intrinsic value of individual non-human animals and plants and the autonomy of abstract entities such as ecosystems and the Earth itself (conceived as an incredibly large individual). This focus on atomistic notions of value has had an effect on the field of ecological restoration as well as on the relationship between environmental ethics and the related field of the aesthetics of nature. In his forthcoming dissertation, Robert Earle (PhD candidate: SUNY Buffalo Philosophy and ERIE trainee) tracks this historical development and introduces an alternative, relational account of value based upon the phenomenological theory of intentionality. Values, the dissertation maintains, can be viewed as recognized attachments between beings and their environments.

 

Ecosystems and Emergence

Participants:

ERIE Fellow:Justin Donhauser, Department of Philosophy
Faculty:Ken Shockley, Department of Philosophy

Summary:

I pursue an approach to academic research that sees one key role of philosophers of science as one of making plain the bases of practical and theoretical problems, and isolating possible solutions, through the disinterested analysis of actual scientific practices and applications. Moreover, while I believe that pure conceptual analysis of abstract issues is valuable and would not suggest that philosophers are obligated to do so, in my own research and teaching I try to do the sort of conceptual bridge-building between disciplines that makes easier multidisciplinary research and problem-solving and makes philosophy matter outside philosophy.

In my dissertation, "Ecosystems and Emergence," I attend to two questions that are the source of much debate about theory in ecology and its assigned advisory role in environmental policy and natural resource management. Those are, (i) whether and in what ways highly theoretical (math-based) ecological models can reliably inform policy and management decisions on the ground, and (ii) whether and in what manner the types of individuals such models describe (e.g. biological communities and ecosystems) exist out in nature. While addressing the former through conceptual analysis of historical and recent developments in theoretical ecology, I collect insights into the latter. Proceding as such, I advance a scientifically respectable view of the philosophical foundations of theoretical ecology, its historical evolution, and practical exports that dissolves a large class of conceptual hurdles confronted by academics and practitioners working in numerous humanities and science and engineering fields.

 

 

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