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400-Level Senior Seminar Course  
UI-429      Environmental Ethics
Catalog Description

Comprehensive study of the ethical, social, scientific, and cultural problems associated with the use and abuse of natural resources.

Course Content

Everyone recognizes the human need to live in the environment, and to use it to survive. The problem, however, is understanding the right way to use natural resources. Should resources be overconsumed, or do we have a moral obligation to conserve and to recycle? Do we envision the world as an inert collection of material resources here for human dominion? Is it a sacred, indeed a living, place which should be used only with careful reverence? Are there other alternatives? Do we as human beings have a responsibility to the rest of nature, if not for its own sake, then for future generations? Environmental Ethics is one of the hottest new topics in philosophy today. It casts its nets widely, analyzing the ethical, socio-economic, political, scientific, and cultural problems associated with the use and abuse of natural resources. The course is divided into the following units:


Unit I: Primer in Ethical Theory (An introduction to traditional approaches to human ethics)


Unit II: Primer in Environmental Ethics (an introduction to the differences between environmental and human ethics)


Unit III: The Science of Ecology and the Ethics of Interconnection (An analysis of the extent of interconnection between the science of the environment and an ethics of the environment)


Unit IV: Readings in Environmental Ethics (An in depth study of the leading theories in environmental ethics)


Unit V: New Frontiers in Environmental Ethics (An analysis of eco-feminism, Gaia theory, "green" politics and other new concepts in environmental ethics)

Nature of Course

The solutions of environmental problems are, by their very nature, interdisciplinary. As a result, this course will reflect that very definition. Students will be expected to both read and actively engage the course material. By this, the student will be involved in many in class activities, from hands-on demonstrations to discussions and debates. One fully understands the ethical dimension of environmental problems when their complexities are encountered first hand. A simple "readings and lecture' format discourages such encounters. Thus, the course will be active, and as "hands-on" as possible. Through a combination of free-flowing interdisciplinary discussion, and hands-on demonstration and computer simulations, we will attempt to understand the rich diversity of the environment and the ethical role of humans within it.

Student Expectations
  1. To attend class regularly.
  2. To be prepared to participate in class discussions based on sets of discussion questions.
  3. To be prepared to hand in critical journals on a semi-weekly basis.
  4. To read the assigned texts and articles, and be prepared to participate in class discussions and demonstrations regarding them.
  5. To complete preliminary independent research culminating in a proposal for a final position paper.
  6. To present a summary of the term paper for class round table discussion.

Completion of University Studies courses in Logical Systems, and either Physical or Living Systems categories.



Credit Hours 3