Ethics and Fluency: Metaphors in Moral Cognition
Spring 2017 not offered
|Certificates: Environmental Studies
In responding to global climate crises, moral philosophers, policymakers, and activists may find ourselves relying on concepts that are poorly suited to the problems we now face. In thinking about water-related challenges, this course asks participants not only to conceive our situation in familiar moral terms--managing disputes about water rights or water pollution control, for example--but also to see how our understanding of water, and our relation to it, transforms how we conceive of morality.
The shared moral reference points to which contemporary public discourse can most readily appeal include rights, reciprocal agreements, and alleviation of suffering. The first two principle-based concepts have been of some use in addressing clear cases of conflict among actual human beings' claims. Yet such conflicts represent only a fraction of the challenges related to environmental interdependence. Meanwhile, public alarm over suffering can draw attention to other symptoms of environmental crisis--namely, to the desperation of sentient beings in circumstances of scarcity, toxicity, inundation, or niche loss. Yet such concern over suffering also remains insufficient to orient us to our responsibility with respect to Earth's interdependent patterns of life.
This seminar will explore several marginalized and emerging ways of conceptualizing problems of value and agency, inquiring into how they help us recognize and rise to the challenges of environmental interdependence and volatility. We will attend especially to the challenge of making sense of an ethics animated by water metaphors such as fluency, dynamics, and circulation, rather than by the more solid conceptual touchstones of principles on one hand and results or outcomes on the other.
|Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar
|Grading Mode: Student Option
|Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ENVS-MN)(ENVS)(PHIL)(PHIL-Philosophy)(PHIL-Social Jus)
This reading list is tentative and subject to revision:
David Abram, BECOMING ANIMAL
Stephen Gardiner, A PERFECT MORAL STORM
Larson, METAPHORS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
Moore and Nelson, eds., MORAL GROUND
Although these books are central to the course, at least as much of the reading will consist of chapters and articles made available through moodle and/or Olin reserves.
|Examinations and Assignments:
Each participant will post a weekly response to assigned texts (by the midweek point) and one critically engaged response to another participant's work (before class meeting). Participants will rotate responsibility for launching the seminar discussion. Final research projects will be outlined by midterm and prepared for a round of peer critique in the last two weeks.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments:
Interested students should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with details of relevant background and interests. At least two prior courses in philosophy, including at least one course listed in the values category (211-230 or 266-285), will generally suffice. Philosophy majors should note that this course counts toward the department's seminar requirement only if it is taken in the junior or senior year.
Students without sufficient philosophy background should contact me with details of potentially relevant interdisciplinary preparation (such as in cognitive or developmental psychology, anthropology, environmental studies, etc.). Priority will be given to Philosophy and/or Environmental Studies majors.
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