Environmental Ethics Books | Center for Environmental Philosophy

Environmental Ethics Books

The Liberation of Life: From the Cell to the Community, by Charles Birch and John B. Cobb, Jr., is primarily about the liberation of the concept of life and secondly about the liberation of the life of humans and nonhumans alike. It is based firmly on biological science, but at the same time rejects biology's dominant model of mechanism or materialism in favor of an "ecological model of life." This new ecological model provides an ethical, philosophical, and humane perspective which materialism cannot give. It brings together science, ethics, philosophy, religion, sociology, and political economy and casts new lifht on the problems raised by the contemporary issues of genetic engineering, abortion, euthanasia, conservation, economics, women's liberation, the limits of growth, and the future sustainability of the global society. Based on the lifetime experience and wisdom of its biologist and philosopher authors from two sides of the world, it speaks cogently and urgently to the critical needs of our time in a language all can understand.

  • "This is a superb book. It is likely to become a classic in the literature of process philosophy and theology" (Roger Shinn, The Christian Century).

    "The Liberation of Life is a compelling and challenging journey from the cell to the community by way of the central problems of our age" (Warwick Fox, The Ecologist).

ISBN 0-9626807-0-2, paper: $21.00
ix, 353 pages, bibliography, index

Beyond Spaceship Earth: Environmental Ethics and the Solar System, edited by Eugene C. Hargrove, was supported by the Ethics and Value Studies Program of the National Science Foundation. The contributors to this landmark study--including experts from NASA, NOAA, and the U.S. Congress, engineers, ecologists, philosophers, writers, artists, and medical and legal authorities--consider a broad range of topics related to the extension of environmental and ethical concepts to our planetary environment, including the social, medical, and economic implications of space exploration for human life, helath, and welfare; Earth orbital pollution; ecological problems related to possible colonies in space and on other planets; the commercial and industrial use of space; the exploration and utilization of the Moon; near-Earth orbital asteroids, and other planetary bodies; the moral status of extraterrestrial life; the preservation of nonliving natural value in the solar system; the theological implications of space exploration; and the dangers of the military uses of space.

  • ". . . this collection represents a scholarly landmark. . . . The sixteen authors represent a diversity of fields from science-fiction novelists to NASA officials to philosophy and theology professors. Hargrove has selected an excellent topic for the book, and the quality of the papers is uniformly good" (Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Environmental Ethics).

ISBN 0-9626807-1-0, hardcover: $14.95
xv, 353 pages, index, color illustration section

The Beauty of Environment: A General Model for Environmental Aesthetics, by Yrjo Sepanmaa, is the first comprehensive book on environmental aesthetics. It

  • "is of great value. As a summary of a vast field it is unsurpassed, as a stimulous to further consideration of the nature and role of environmental aesthetics it is provocative. It should be read by those who are interested in aesthetics but also by those practising planning and conservation" (The British Journal of Aesthetics).

Sepanmaa compares artistic beauty and natural beauty extensively and argues that it should be possible to develop a class of nature aesthetics experts that can provide objective testimony comparable to that of art experts. The difference is simply that although an appropriate terminology has been developed for art, it has not yet been developed for natural beauty.

  • ". . . the author deserves great credit for even having attemtped to draw together the diverse and numerous sources that related to this topic. The book's bibliographic utility alone would be ample justification for acquiring it" (Neil Evernden, Environmental Ethics).

ISBN 0-9626807-2-9, paper: $14.95
xv, 191 pages, index, bibliography

Originally published in 1972, Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology, by John B. Cobb, Jr., was the first single-authored book-length environmental ethics text to deal with the ecological crisis. As relevant today as it was over four decades ago, it serves as a clear warning that the questions it addresses still urgently need to be answered! Written for the Christian lay public and other concerned citizens, it is an excellent introduction to key philosophical, theological, and ecological issues that require no technical background in environmental philosophy. John B. Cobb, Jr. is professor of philosophy at the School of Theology at Claremont in California. He is a pioneer not only in environmental ethics, but is also process philosophy and theology. He is co-founder of Process Studies and author of numerous books and articles.

  • "Is It Too Late? was one of the very few pioneering works in ecological ethics and theology. It remains richly relevant, indicative of the author's seminal insight and foresight. . . . Although written for a general audience, it is also an essential resource for ecophilosophers and ecotheologians" (James A. Nash, The Churches' Center for Theology and Public Policy).

    ". . . an updated classic with a massive new bibliograpy that alone is worth the price of the book" (Herman E. Daly, School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland).

ISBN 0-9626807-3-7, paper: $12.50
111 pages, bibliography

Originally published in 1989 by Prentice Hall, Foundations of Environmental Ethics, by Eugene C. Hargrove, is an investigation of the history of ideas behind environmentalism generally and environmental ethics specifically:

"Hargrove, as editor of the journal Environmental Ethics, is arguably the most influential philosopher in the field. . . . The status of the author alone would be enough to make this an important contribution to the field of environmental philosophy, but it is also a powerful argument concerning the roots of environmental ideals in the Western tradition. In part, the book answers John Passmore's contention that a philosophy of nature preservation is alien or marginal to Western culture. The rebuttal of Passmore involves a far-ranging investigation of the intellectual history of environmental attitudes, both those that have inhibited environmental thought (notably, the Western philosophical tradition of idealism and the Anglo-Saxon conception of property rights) and those that have supported preservationist intuitions (primarily, scientific and aesthetic ideals).

Based on the demonstrated existence of Western aesthetic intuitions, Hargrove presents a detailed argument for the ethical foundations of preservationist policy. . . . Central to this discussion is an excellent analysis of the attempted human domination of nature and how this destroys the beauty and autonomy of the natural world. 'The authenticity of nature arises out of the fact that its existence precedes its essence.' In sum, Hargrove attempts to create a middle position between an instrumental justification for environmental policy based on human interests and an intrinsic justification based on the direct consideration of nonhuman value" (Eric Katz, New Jersey Institute of Technology)

"Foundations of Environmental Ethics . . . establishes the existence of a strong tradition of naturalism--fostered and nourished by a creative interaction of field naturalists and nature artists--that predates the individualistic animal welfare and animal rights traditions. It is this anthropocentric, mainly aesthetic tradition, Hargrove shows, which has shaped contemporary environmentalism, its rhetoric, and its thought, and which provides a natural foundation for its future flourishing" (Bryan G. Norton, Georgia Institute of Technology)

"The book is sensational, not merely good. It makes environmental ethics clear and accessible to those new to the field, but also advances the understanding of those who are the most familiar with it. The book captures environmental philosophy at its current state of development and prepares students and scholars to make further contributions to it" (Mark Sagoff, Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy)

"Hargrove effectively combines the scholarly sleuthing of a historian with the analytic acumen of a philosopher to produce a study unique in the field of environmental ethics. . . . Foundations of Environmental Ethics is a monumental scholarly and philosophical achievement" (J. Baird Callicott, University of North Texas)

After Earth Day celebrates the spirit of Earth Day as exemplifying the sustained commitments of many different people and organizations to a common cultural effort: conservation itself. As the essays show, conservation depends upon the continuing efforts of everyone: people in business, in the university, in science and technology, and citizens in every community who act locally but think globally.

Essays cover conservation politics, environmental science, economics and the corporation, environmental philosophy and religion written by some of North America's leading environmental thinkers: Susan Bratton, Elinor Gadon, Pete A. Y. Gunter, Eugene Hargrove, Dolores LaChapelle, Max Oelschlaeger, Robert Paehlke, George Sessions.

Max Oelschlaeger is the author of The Idea of Wilderness, The Environmental Imperative, and Religion in a Time of Ecological Crisis and the editor of The Wilderness Condition.

". . . contains contributions written by ten of North America's leading environmentalists . . . celebrating the spirit of Earth Day one through twenty-one . . . exemplifying the sustained commitments of many different people and organizations to a common cultural effort: conservation itself." - Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society

"Despite much environmental action . . . the environment has gotten worse and something must be done to change course. Oelschlaeger has brought together a wide range of topics . . . to set the new course." - Science

"This is a collection of 16 . . . stimulating essays on the politics, science and philosophy of conservation." - Publishers Weekly

ISBN 0-92939840-8, paper: $14.95
264 pages, index