Books

9780226259826After Preservation: Saving American Nature in the Age of Humans (University of Chicago Press)

From John Muir to David Brower, from the creation of Yellowstone National Park to the Endangered Species Act, environmentalism in America has always had close to its core a preservationist ideal. Generations have been inspired by its ethos—to encircle nature with our protection, to keep it apart, pristine, walled against the march of human development. But we have to face the facts. Accelerating climate change, rapid urbanization, agricultural and industrial devastation, metastasizing fire regimes, and other quickening anthropogenic forces all attest to the same truth: the earth is now spinning through the age of humans. After Preservation takes stock of the ways we have tried to both preserve and exploit nature to ask a direct but profound question: what is the role of preservationism in an era of seemingly unstoppable human development, in what some have called the “Anthropocene”?

The volume brings together a stunning consortium of voices comprised of renowned scientists, historians, philosophers, environmental writers, activists, policy makers, and land managers to negotiate the incredible challenges that environmentalism faces. Some call for a new, post-preservationist model, one that is far more pragmatic, interventionist, and human-centered. Others push forcefully back, arguing for a more chastened and restrained vision of human action on the earth. Some try to establish a middle ground, while others ruminate more deeply on the meaning and value of wilderness. Some write on species lost, others on species saved, and yet others discuss the enduring practical challenges of managing our land, water, and air.

From spirited optimism to careful prudence to critical skepticism, the resulting range of approaches offers an inspiring contribution to the landscape of modern environmentalism, one driven by serious, sustained engagements with the critical problems we must solve if we—and the wild garden we may now keep—are going to survive the era we have ushered in.

 

Contributors: Chelsea K. Batavia, F. Stuart (Terry) Chapin III, Norman L. Christensen, Jamie Rappaport Clark, William Wallace Covington, Erle C. Ellis, Mark Fiege, Dave Foreman, Harry W. Greene, Emma Marris, Michelle Marvier, Bill McKibben, J. R. McNeill, Curt Meine, Ben A. Minteer, Michael Paul Nelson, Bryan Norton, Stephen J. Pyne, Andrew C. Revkin, Holmes Rolston III, Amy Seidl, Jack Ward Thomas, Diane J. Vosick, John A. Vucetich, Hazel Wong, and Donald Worster.

 

Reviews

New Yorker
“Conservation requires conversation; protecting nature while still using it to meet human needs is a paradoxical mission, and its methods depend heavily on time and place. In such terrain, manifestos make lousy guides. Better is a forum such as After Preservation, which not only seats ecomodernists, wilderness purists, bureaucrats, and scientists at the same long, noisy table but also places their positions in historical context.”

Booklist
“Although environmentalists have traditionally held onto a preservationist philosophy in fending off ecological harms, the omnipresence of human influence makes many now wonder if that approach is still feasible. In this collection of twenty-three spirited and thought-provoking essays, scientists, historians, and activists alike represent a broad spectrum of viewpoints, from conservation at all costs to balancing the natural world’s needs with those of civilization. . . . Everyone concerned with the ongoing debate over wildlife protection will want to study this vitally important contribution to the discussion.”

 David Quammen, author of Spillover

“Whether you like the label ‘Anthropocene’ or not, whether you find the prospect of what it signifies inevitable or appalling (or both), the time has come to address its implications, as these thoughtful, battle-tested authors attempt to do. The time has long since come.”

 Carl Safina, author of The View From Lazy Point and Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel
“This is neither a predictable text on environmentalist refusals nor a whistle-in-the-dark expression of shallow optimism about humanity’s great future as a planetary conquering force. This is a great swirl of debate at this critical crossroads in the relationship between humans and the rest of nature. No holds here are barred. In prose sometimes pragmatic and sometimes anguished, some of the best minds in the business—some of the wisest people around today—argue about our place in nature, what it could be, what it should be, what it is, what it will be, and what we must not let it become. I regret that my own book deadline prevented me from contributing to this work. Feeling left out is my highest praise.”

 

41YzolOK66L._SS500_Refounding Environmental Ethics: Pragmatism, Principle, and Practice (Temple University Press)

Combining environmental ethics, democratic theory, philosophical pragmatism, and the environmental social sciences, Refounding Environmental Ethics makes the case for a more experimental, interdisciplinary, and democratic style of environmental ethics—one that stands as an alternative to the field’s historically dominant “nature-centered” outlook. In doing so it also demonstrates the relevance of pragmatic environmental ethics for environmental problem solving and conservation practice.

The book provides numerous examples of this pragmatic approach in action, considering a wide range of application and issues, including invasive species, ecological research, biodiversity loss, protected area management, and conservation under global climate change.

 

Reviews

“The best articulation and defense of environmental pragmatism to date…What gives this book particular relevance is Minteer’s articulation of how environmental pragmatism can be applied to twenty-first-century environmental issues…Richard Rorty once wrote, “Truth is what your contemporaries let you get away with”…Minteer, in this important work, refuses to let environmental philosophers get away with policy irrelevance.”  BioScience

“…should be required reading for all those still laboring under the misapprehension that the pragmatist tradition lacks internal depth, distinctions, and subtlety…a well-crafted book that outlines a deeply sympathetic, engaged variant of pragmatic environmental ethics…”Environmental Ethics

“[A] provocative and important book on the current state of affairs in environmental ethics. It is provocative because his version of pragmatism is advocated in a novel and strategic fashion. It is important because he strongly makes the case that if environmental ethics is to survive as something more than an esoteric subdiscipline of an esoteric profession—that is, if it is to make a genuine difference for non-philosophers and non-humans, alike—then it must adjust to the current situation, which, to be blunt, is dire….In his considerate book, Minteer exemplifies this democratic hope with nuance and intelligence—for which we all, humans and non-humans, should be grateful.” Ethics, Policy & Environment

 “Minteer’s new book lives up to its title…[Minteer] builds his search for environmental values on a firm foundation in social science, which is essential to his pragmatist approach. He builds on Dewey’s conception of democracy to deepen and broaden the intellectual base for environmental pragmatism, supporting a pluralistic way to determine and pursue environmental values, and he intertwines his argument with case studies and real situations. [This] book will be especially useful for environmental ethics classes designed for environmental studies or environmental policy students.”Bryan G. Norton, Distinguished Professor, School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology

“Minteer’s new book provides a comprehensive description and defense of policy-oriented environmental pragmatism. He shows how some of the most common arguments against pragmatism simply misunderstand and distort what pragmatists are saying, but he also makes substantive methodological and epistemological claims that will provoke creative responses from people who are sympathetic to a pragmatist position. At the same time, his closing chapter on environmental philosophy in an era of climate adaptation presents entirely novel reasons for rethinking traditional ecocentric commitments to intrinsic values. All in all, Refounding Environmental Ethics is a wonderful package—everything one could hope for in a book on environmental philosophy!”Paul B. Thompson, W. K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural, Food, and Community Ethics, Michigan State University
 

 

Nature in Common? Environmental Ethics and the Contested Foundations of Environmental Policy (Temple University Press)

Should we appreciate nature mainly for its ability to advance our interests or should we respect it as having a good of its own, apart from any contribution to human well being? The fourteen essays in this edited collection discuss the “convergence hypothesis” put forth by Bryan Norton—a controversial thesis in environmental ethics about the policy implications of moral arguments for environmental protection. Historically influential essays are joined with newly commissioned essays to provide the first sustained attempt to reconcile two long-opposed positions. Norton himself offers the book’s closing essay.

This seminal volume contains contributions from some of the most respected scholars in the field, including Donald Brown, J. Baird Callicott, Andrew Light, Holmes Rolston III, Laura Westra, and many others. Although Nature in Common? will be especially useful for students and professionals studying environmental ethics and philosophy, it will engage any reader who is concerned about the philosophies underlying contemporary environmental policies.

 

Reviews

Nature in Common? brings together leading environmental philosophers to sharpen and clarify the divisions and critically examine the strengths and limits of moving environmentalists toward an agenda with which most can agree. This is an important and unique collection of essays [and] deserves to be read widely.” Jan Dizard, Charles Hamilton Houston Professor of American Culture and the Pick Professor of Environmental Studies, Amherst College

Nature in Common? is a pivotal contribution to the field of environmental ethics as it grapples with the means and modes of making more significant impacts on local, national, or international environmental policy and decision making. For anyone interested in the subject, Minteer provides a balanced and well organized selection of the most influential thinkers who have long been hashing out the terms of debate for environmental ethics since the 1970s. This book is a necessary read for students in environmental ethics and policy.”The Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

“Ben Minteer has done the environmental community a great service by bringing together an excellent collection of essays…. Besides being a valuable resource for established environmental ethicists, the volume would contribute nicely to advanced undergraduate or graduate courses, especially if they include policy-oriented students…. We can thank Minteer for putting together an excellent anthology…that may ultimately contribute to greater convergence among environmentalists around the cogency of the convergence hypothesis.”Environmental Ethics

 

 

The Landscape of Reform. Civic Pragmatism and Environmental Thought in America (MIT Press)

A fresh and provocative reading of the intellectual foundations of American environmentalism, focusing on the work and legacy of four important conservation and planning thinkers in the first half of the twentieth century: Liberty Hyde Bailey, a forgotten figure in the Progressive conservation movement; urban and regional planning theorist Lewis Mumford; Benton MacKaye, the forester and conservationist who proposed the Appalachian Trail in the 1920s; and Aldo Leopold, author of the environmentalist classic A Sand County Almanac.  These writers blazed a significant “third way” in environmental ethics and practice, a more pragmatic approach that offers a counterpoint to the anthropocentrism-versus-ecocentrism—use-versus-preservation—narrative that has long dominated discussions of the development of American environmental thought. By rediscovering the pragmatic roots of American environmentalism, the book argues that we can help bring about a new, civic-minded environmentalism today.

 

Reviews

“This is an elegantly written, deeply researched book. Its delicate integration of intellectual history offers a valuable lesson for environmental historians…In the end, Minteer’s book raises important and provocative questions and, in turn, raises the level of our debate.” —The American Historical Review

“While environmental historians have long recognized connections between environmental thought and American political culture, and while a few environmental philosophers have recently begun to formulate a pragmatist environmental ethics, Minteer is the first to argue that American environmental thought is deeply rooted in the civic pragmatist tradition…The Landscape of Reform is clearly an important and well-written contribution to the history of environmental thought and politics. Those who take seriously William Cronon’s sage admonition to focus our attention on issues of sustainable use will find Minteer’s careful interdisciplinary scholarship particularly valuable.”  —Environmental History

“…A rare book, a work that is both a detailed intellectual history of a nearly forgotten pragmatic tradition that once existed within American environmental circles, as well as a thoughtful plea for the modern American environmental movement to deemphasize the most radical aspects of its ideology …The Landscape of Reform should be recognized as a distinguished and significant piece of historical scholarship. Minteer deserves high praise for offering a revisionist corrective to the dominant historical narrative, which has tended to divide American environmentalism simplistically into either anthropocentric or ecocentric traditions.” —Environmental Practice

 

 

Reconstructing Conservation: Finding Common Ground (Island Press).

Reconstructing Conservation brings together 23 leading scholars and practitioners — including J. Baird Callicott, Susan Flader, Richard Judd, Curt Meine, Bryan Norton, and Paul B. Thompson — to examine the classical conservation tradition and its value to contemporary environmentalism. Focusing not just on the tensions that have marked the deconstructivist debate over wilderness and environmentalism, the book represents a larger and ultimately more constructive and hopeful discussion over the proper course of future conservation scholarship and action.

 Reviews

“Most biologists are little aware of the rejuvenating but often acrimonious debates waged among academics from the fields of environmental history and philosophy. Those debates are central to Reconstructing Conservation: Finding Common Ground, a beautifully written book that attempts to build bridges between the scholarly practitioner and the conservation community…It represents a vital contribution to conservation scholarship.”—BioScience
 
“Minteer and Manning provide an excellent text. It is broad in scope, offering not just theoretical, but empirical research and ideas for a pragmatic ‘reconstruction’ of conservation policy. Indeed, reading the contents page alone is enough to send waves of panic through a Ph.D. student studying contemporary conservation policy…”—Environmental Politics
 
Reconstructing Conservation does an admirable job of outlining a pluralistic and democratic philosophy of conservation that is grounded in history and science, a vision that can provide a strong foundation for conservation practice in the 21st century. Everyone working in conservation today should read this book.” —Environmental Conservation

 

 

Democracy and the Claims of Nature: Critical Perspectives for a New Century (Rowman & Littlefield)

This collection tackles the core questions raised by the intersection of our democratic and environmental commitments, including the conceptual and practical connections between democratic theory and environmental ethics, the potential for an environmentally defined democratic citizenship, the concerns of equity and justice in environmental discourse and policy making, and the shape and future of democratic environmental movements. The prominent contributors-philosophers, political theorists, and social scientists-engage both the complexities and the possibilities of a robustly democratic environmentalism, and each offers their own unique insights into the particular challenges that flow from the intermingling of environmental ethics and politics.

 

Reviews

“This collection will become the definitive text to consult to understand the interplay of democratic norms and environmental values. In this benchmark study, the leading philosophers in the field integrate past research and lay out the intellectual agenda for the future.”Mark Sagoff, Institute of Philosophy and Public Policy, University of Maryland

“It is a testament to the innovation shown by the contributors that this volume exhibits such a high degree of originality. The book successfully traverses environmental ethics, democratic theory and environmental movements. It is a valuable contribution to an important area of green political theory.”Political Studies Review

 

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