Final Exam Study Questions
Nature, Technology, and Society, Fall 2010
Questions on Ehrenfeld, Becoming Good Ancestors: Pseudocommunities
1. What are three distinct negative effects Ehrenfeld identifies that have resulted from the television culture.
2. Give some examples of what Ehrenfeld calls “pseudocommunities” and explain why he labels them with this term.
3. Using examples, explain the tradeoff between efficiency of daily life and community.
4. Explain Ehrenfeld’s assessment of electronic communication. Do you agree with him?
5. Explain Ehrenfeld’s idea that the internet fosters loneliness.
6. What are some of the positive values Ehrenfeld sees in the internet?
Questions on Jamieson, The Ethics of Geoengineering
1. Define “geoengineering” and give some examples of how it might be done.
2. Why does he call geoengineering “intentional climate change”?
3. Explain the difference between adaptation and mitigation in response to climate change and give clear cut examples of each.
4. What are the three ethical considerations that Jamieson considers when evaluating geoengineering?
5. Describe Jamieson’s views about the importance of and prospects for democratic decision making regarding geoengineering.
6. What reasons does Jamieson give for claiming that changing human behavior is a better ethical response than geoengineering?
7. If one values learning to live with nature, what implications does Jamieson think this has for geoengineering? Why does he think successful geoengineering to prevent/mitigate climate change might be worse than climate change itself?
8. Does Jamieson favor geoengineering? Does he favor research into geoengineering?
9. What are some of the risks of research into geoengineering according to Jamieson and how does Jamieson propose to deal with those risks?
Questions on Gardner, Is Geoengineering the “Lesser Evil”?
1. Explain the lesser evil argument for geoengineering.
2. How is climate change a question of justice between current and future people?
3. What is Gardner’s response to the idea that we need geoengineering so we can be prepared for the emergency of drastic climate change?
4. According to Gardner, why is geoengineering the only serious response we are considering to climate change?
Questions on Elliot, Faking Nature
1. What is the restoration thesis according to Robert Elliot. What are some practical objections to it? What is the difference between those and Elliot's philosophical objection to it?
2. Explain how Elliot uses an analogy with art objects to make his case about restored nature.
3. Evaluate the following claim: "If there is no difference between two things, it would be irrational to value them differently. Thus if a restored landscape is molecule for molecule identical with the original landscape, it is irrational for environmentalists to object to developments which destroy and then perfectly restore the land."
4. Do history, origin, and genesis matter to how we (do and ought to) value things? What does Elliot think about this? Use an example he gives to make his point.
5. What is the difference between internal and relational properties? Give examples. How is this relevant to Elliot’s views about restored nature?
6. What does Elliot say to support the idea that the naturalness of a landscape is a reason to value it?
7. Does Elliot argue that the natural is invariably (overall) good or better than the artificial? What examples does he use when discussing this point? Evaluate his view on this.
Questions of Katz’s The Big Lie
1. What are the two types of reason Katz gives for opposing restoration? (Hint: They have to do with the act of restoration and the result of restoration.)
2. Define the notion of an “artifact” the way Katz defines it. Is Katz’s account of artifacts a good one?
3. Are there human artifacts that were not intentionally designed? Are all things intentionally designed by a human properly conceived as artifacts?
4. What does it mean to claim artifacts are “anthropocentric?” Must all artifacts be anthropocentric? Why or why not?
5. What does Katz mean by “natural?” What are the two objections to the concept of the natural Katz considers and what is his response to those objections?
6. Give examples of different degrees of naturalness.
7. What does Katz think about the claim that all human activities are natural? Does he think any human activities are natural? If so, which ones?
8. How does Katz relate the natural and the technological?
9. Would Katz favor restoration of the gulf coast after the recent devastation caused by the gushing oil well? Why or why not?
Question of Jordan, "Sunflower Forest: Eco Restoration a Basis for a New Environmental Paradigm"
1. How does Jordan use the gardening metaphor to describe restoration? Is gardening a helpful way to think of the appropriate human relation to nature?
2. Explain the difference between preservationism and restorationism as ways of relating to nature.
3. What would preservationists say in response to Jordan’s criticism that you can’t stop natural systems from changing.
4. Explain Jordan’s criticism that preservationism foster a human/nature apartheid. Is this an accurate and fair criticism on your view?
5. Why does Jordan think preservation offers a severely limited and unhealthy relation to nature? Is he right?
6. Why does Jordan think restoration, in contrast to preservation, is a health relationship to nature? What features does it have that support this claim?
7. What does Jordan mean when he says a healthy relationship to nature must be ecological?
8. Must a healthy relation to nature be economic? Involve work? Involve a giving back to nature? How could humans give back to nature?
9. Is human influence on nature itself problematic or is it only human influence that damages nature that is problematic? Which of these views is help by restorationists? By preservationists?
Study questions Hettinger, Nature Restoration as a Paradigm for the Human Relation with Nature
1. How do restoration and preservation differ with regard to (1) how best to take care of nature, (2) nature’s key value (wildness or biodiversity?). and (3) humans separate from or part of nature?
2. Describe four examples of different types of restoration.
3. Explain what it means to criticize restoration as paternalistic domination of nature.
4. Hettinger list what he considers five “insights” of the restoration paradigm; describe 3 of these. Do you agree they are important “insights?”
5. What does it mean to say restoration is “anthropocentric?” Is restoration necessarily anthropocentric? What does Hettinger think about this? What do you think? Can restoration help nature for its own sake?
6. Explain Hettinger’s argument that Katz can only embrace “anthropocentric restoration.”
7. Explain what Jared Diamond means when he says “we must shoot deer to save nature.” Generalize this claim and use it to support the need for restoration.
8. Explain the critique of preservationism (and Katz) according to which they fail to allow for full human participation in nature. Is this critique fair and important? Why or why not? Is modeling our relation to nature on our relation to art a helpful model? Explain
9. Explain the human/nature apartheid model of the human relation with nature. Is this a helpful model? Why or why not?
10. Is it important to have a positive vision of human’s place in nature?
11. What is “primitivism?” What is the relation between preservation and primitivism? Is primitivism compatible with human flourishing?
12. Hettinger describes four “perils” of the restoration paradigm. Describe three of them. Are these fair criticism of the restoration paradigm?
13. In what sense to some restorationists think humans are parents of nature? Is this a virtuous way of conceiving of the human relation with nature? Does nature need humans?
14. Discuss the relation between restoration and wildness of nature? Are they compatible? Are they opposed?
15. How does Hettinger evaluate the following claim: “Restoration is the human gift back to nature and is a net-benefit to nature.” Can humans benefit nature? How?
16. What model of restoration does Hettinger embrace? Gardening? Benefitting? Restitution? Cleaning up our mess? What model do you think makes most sense?
17. What is Hettinger’s criticism of the idea that restoration provides a positive vision of humans relationship with nature and is a paradigm of a healthy human nature relationship.
18. Evaluate Hettinger’s claims that human flourishing need not feed on wholesale destruction of nature.
19. Is Hettinger right that restoration only has a minor place in a healthy human/nature relationship?
Questions on Sandler’s Global Warming (=GW) and Virtues of Ecological Restoration
1. What is assisted recovery? What is restoration? What is historical fidelity (or historicity)? How are they related? Use examples to explain. Give an example of an assisted recovery that is not a restoration.
2. What is “foregone global warming?”
3. What are the two feature of global warming/climate change that Sandler thinks will make it hard for us to adapt to it?
4. What is the virtue of “reconciliation?” Why does Sandler think this virtue of will be increasingly important?
5. What implications for restoration does Sandler think global warming has? Explain why.
6. What is ecological integrity? Using an example, explain how the goal of historical fidelity and ecological integrity might conflict? (Consider lobster versus blue crabs in Long Island Sound.)
7. How does Sandler define virtue? Vice?
8. What vice does Sandler think Katz finds in restoration? Does Sandler agree that restoration embodies this vice?
9. What does Sandler think of the argument for historical fidelity that claims it’s a useful way to achieve ecological integrity?
10. What does Sandler think about the argument for historical fidelity that claims it increases natural value (independence from humans)?
11. Explain: Reconciliation involves accommodating ourselves to the world; Adapting ourselves to it, rather than it to us.
Questions on Ross, Appreciating Gardens and Urban Nature
1. What are the two extreme views of nature that Ross rejects
2. What is Ross’ own view of nature? What is her definition of “original nature” and later pristine nature?
3. According to Ross, why does Elliot believe a restored nature is not natural?
4. What are two of the features that reduce naturalness, according to Ross?
5. How can human activities increase naturalness, according to Ross?
6. Using examples, explain what Ross means by nature being present in urban areas “at the extremes.”
7. Identify, describe and give examples of Ross’ four categories of less than pristine nature.
Study questions for Segal, Are we Simple Creatures?
1. What is Segal’s response to the following: We are simple creatures, with simple needs. Human flourishing is best achieved if we satisfy our small number of basic needs. Thus simple living is best for human flourishing.
2. Does Segal think we are simple or complex creatures? Explain
3. How can the desire for self-esteem get translated into a desire for a specific product?
4. What are some of the fundamental needs that Segal identifies?
5. Does he think that our fundamental desires can be satisfied by material consumption?
6. How does Segal respond to the claim that since we are complex creatures with complex needs, we need many different material items to satisfy those needs?
7. How does the complexity of human nature/needs undermine the idea that material consumption is the way to become fulfilled.
8. How can the fulfillment of a genuine need via material consumption cost us too much?
9. Which does Segal think preferable: High or low consumption lifestyles? Why?
Questions on Lichtenberg, Consuming Because Others Consume
1. What are reasons for thinking it morally problematic to consume as others consume?
2. Does Lichtenberg think it is morally problematic to consume as others do?
3. What does it mean to say needs are contextual?
4. What are some examples of and reasons for consuming as others consume that Lichtenberg thinks are not problematic?
5. Does Lichtenberg criticize consumption as a means of self-respect?
6. Why does the fact that we consume because others consume give us hope for a more easy transition to a lower consumption society?
Questions Schor, Clothes Encounters
1. What is the difference between a fashion minimalist and a fashion maximalist and which is Schor and why?
2. Does Schor think we are too materialistic? Explain why or why not?
3. Describe what has been happening in the clothes industry according to Schor.
4. Explain what sort of a clothes industry she want to support though her apparel purchases.
Questions on Schor, Tackling Turbo Consumption
1. Describe the work and spend culture.
2. What is productivity? What have increases in productivity led to? What might they have led to?
3. Explain and give examples of the decline in vitality of social life?
4. How does Schor think the desire to “keep up with the Jones” has changed?
5. What is problematic about consuming more imported products, according to Schor?
6. Describe the “simplistic” critiques of consumption that Schor opposes.
7. If “overconsumption” is not the problem, what is the problem according to Schor?
8. What does Schor say about the “symbolic” meaning of consumption.
9. Describe the alternative economic vision that Schor promotes. Relate it to the capitalism/socialism debate.
10. What does Schor think of trans/multi-national corporations? Explain here views.
1. What is “Affluenza” as described in the film? What are three or four major points made in the film?
2. Compare our consumption today with earlier levels of consumption.
3. What are 4 different reasons to be concerned with our current levels of consumption?
4. What does ecological footprint analysis suggest about our level of consumption today? How many earth’s would it take to live sustainably at the level of consumption we live at now?
5. Discuss the relation between growth and happiness.
6. Identify and explain several ways in which growth in GNP does not indicate an improvement in our lives.
7. What is one suggestion people have given for how to provide for jobs for everyone even as we dramatically decrease the amount of consumption.
8. Is it morally wrong to be wealthy and wasteful on a planet were 1/5 live in abject poverty?
9. Is the following true: Conservative Christians are worried about the effects of our culture’s focus on consumption. Explain why or why not. What is the relation between consumerism and family and community?
10. According to the video, are people happier at our current high level of consumption than we used to be? Explain.
11. Develop an argument both for and against the idea that it is unfair for Americans to be as rich as we are while so many in the world have virtually nothing.
12. What is simple living? Describe the voluntary simplicity movement. Is this a desirable alternative lifestyle in your opinion? Why or why not?
Questions on Prosperity without Growth
1. Describe the inequality that exists despite huge economic growth.
2. What is the population of the earth now? What is it projected to be in 2050?
3. Explain why gross domestic product (or gross national product) is or is not a good measure of well-being; make sure you explain the reasons some think it is not.
4. What are some reasons for thinking that humans could flourish even while consuming less, that a less materialistic society will enhance life satisfaction?
5. What are some reasons for thinking economic growth is necessary for prosperity. Why is it plausible to think it important for economic growth to outpace growth in worker productivity?
6. Why might one think that consumption growth is necessary to avoid unemployment? What are ideas for avoiding unemployment while decreasing consumption/economic activity?
7. What is meant by “decoupling growth from increase resource use?” What is meant by “material throughput?” What is the difference between relative and absolute “decoupling” and why is relative decoupling not enough?
8. Do the author’s think we should ask people to resist consumerism?
9. What are some examples of meaningful participation in social life that is not materialistic and do not involve significant consumption.
10. Do the authors advocate a shift to a green economy and green technology as the solution to our economic and environmental problems?
11. In what ways will a sustainable economy be different than our current economy, according to the authors?
Questions on Cafaro, Is Recession Good?
1. What are the reasons for thinking recession might be good from an environmental standpoint? What are the reasons for thinking it might not be good from that standpoint?
Questions on Orr, The Designers’ Challenge
1. What are the four facts that Orr thinks shapes our world? How does Orr think designers/your generation should respond to these facts?
2. What is “nature deficit disorder?”
3. Does Orr think we are about to run out of oil or that we still have half left?
4. Does Orr think we should be hopeful about the future? Why or why not?
5. What are some of the principles of good design that Orr identifies?
6. What is the “fundamental oath of designers?”
7. Why does Orr talk about the Civil War and WWII?
8. What is this generation’s “Great Work,” according to Orr? In what way is it “Great Work?”
9. Does Orr think his ideas should appeal more to liberals and Democrats or conservatives and Republicans?
Questions on Pope, Let’s Get Technical
1. Does Carl Pope think engineers and environmentalists are on opposing sides and that engineering/technology is to blame for many environmental problems?
2. Does Pope think technology is neutral?
3. According to Pope, what two things must be in place if technology is going to be used for good purposes?
4. Explain his one of his examples of a problematic use of technology? How does he propose to solve such problematic uses?