Philosophy 150: Nature, Technology, and Society

Schedule of Assignments, Hettinger, Spring 2015


1.         Jan 13: Introduction

            a.         78 Reasonable Questions to Ask about Any Technology,” from Stephanie Mills, ed., Turning Away from Technology (Sierra Club Books, Copyright by Stephanie Mills, 1997)

            b.         See also:

                        i.         “The 50 Greatest Inventions since the Wheel” (By James Fallows, The Atlantic, November 2013)

                        ii.        Samuel Arbesman, “It’s complicated: Human ingenuity has created a world that the mind cannot master. Have we finally reached our limits?”

                        iii.       Car Brain: A Stroll Around the World


2.         Jan 15: Langdon Winner, “Technology as Forms of Life,” originally from Cohen and Wartofsky, eds., Epistemology, Method and the Social Sciences (D Reidel 1983); reprinted in and copied from David Kaplan, ed., Readings in the Philosophy of Technology (Rowman and Littlefield, 2004), pp. 103-113

3.         Jan 20: Theodore Roszak, “Foreword: In Defense of the Living Earth,” pp. vii-xi from Stephanie Mills, ed., Turning Away from Technology

            a.         See also: Richard Conniff, What the Luddites Really Fought Against


4.         Jan 22: Two readings

            a.         Paul Shepard, Preface to The Only World We’ve Got (Sierra Club Books, 1996; Paul Shepard, Copyright 1996), pp. ix-xx

            b.         Jared Diamond, “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race," Discover (May 1987)

5.         Jan 27: Two readings

            a.         Richard Heinberg, The Primitivist Critique of Civilization

            b.         Paul Kingsnorth on "Dark Ecology"                                                              

                        i.         See also Paul Kingsnorth on "Uncivilization" (2 min video)

Luddism Examined

6.         Jan 29: Two readings

            a.         Wendell Berry, “Why I’m Not Going to Buy a ComputerHarpers 1987

            b.         Wendell Berry, “Feminism, the Body, and the Machine” 2002

                        i.         (For related material, See also Matthew Crawford “The Case for Working With Your Hands” and Review of Crawford’s Shop Craft as Soul Craft on class webpage)

7.         Feb 3: David Skrbina, “Introduction to Technological Slavery The Collected Writings of Theodore J Kaczynski a.k.a. The Unabomber

8.         Feb 5: Dan Lyons, "Are Luddites Confused?" Inquiry 22: 381-403 (1979)

Support for Technology

9.         Feb 10: Samuel Florman, “In Praise of Technology” (from Florman’s Existential Pleasures of Engineering, 1975 St. Martin’s Press) copied from Controlling Technology, ed. by William B. Thompson (Prometheus,1991), pp. 148-156

10.       Feb 12: Bruno Latour, “Love your Monsters: Why We Must Care for Our Technologies As We Do Our Children,” Breakthrough, 2012.

            a.         See also:

                        i.         Shellenberger and Nordhaus on Loving Your Monsters and Postenvironmentalism (synopsis)

                        ii.        Technology Friendly Environmentalism (Colbert)

                        iii.       Pandora's Promise (pro-nuclear power film)

                        iv.       DamNation Trailer

                        v.         “Hydropower for Me But Not for Thee: Why Poor Nations Deserve the Large Dams From Which the West Has Benefitted” by John Briscoe


Information Technology

11.       Feb 17: David Ehrenfeld, “Pseudocommunities,” pp. 51-58 from Becoming Good Ancestors: How we Balance Nature, Community and Technology (2009)

            a.         See also

                        i.         Herbert Drefus on the Internet

                        ii.        University Declares Week w/o Social Media

                        iii.       So Much For Bowling Alone: Research Says Internet Users Are Socially Engaged

                        iv.       The Perils of Perfection

                        v.         Is Google Making Us Stupid?

                        vi.       Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction

                        vii.      Review of Community in the Digital Age - Philosophy and Practice

Food and Biotechnology and Genetically Modified Organisms

12.       Feb 19: Barbara Kingsolver, “A Fist in the Eye of God,” From Small Wonders (Perennial, 2003)

13.       Feb 24: The Debate over Genetically Modified Organisms

            a.         Monsanto vs Vandana Shiva

            b.         See also

                        i.         Label GMO Disco Video by Dana Lyons

                        ii.        Plant Breeders Release First 'Open Source Seeds' (NPR audio)

14.       Feb 26: MIDTERM EXAM

Spring Break 




15.       Mar 10: Eric Katz, “The Big Lie” (in William Throop, Environmental Restoration: Ethics, Theory, and Practice)

16.       Mar 12: William Jordan, "'Sunflower Forest': Ecological Restoration as the Basis for a New Environmental Paradigm”

            a.         See also Ned Hettinger, “Nature Restoration as a Paradigm for the Human Relationship with Nature

            b.         In class powerpoint presentation of above Hettinger paper

The Anthropocene 

17.       March 17: Five readings

            a.         Enter the Anthropocene—Age of Man, National Geographic, 2011 by Elizabeth Kolbert

            b.         “Hope in the Age of Man” by Emma Marris, Peter Kareiva, Joseph Mascaro and Erle C. Ellis

            c.         “We Are Planet Managers” by Emma Marris

            d.         “Neither Good Nor Bad” by Erle Ellis

            e.         Emma Marris, Chapter 1, Rambunctious Garden

            f.         See also:

                        i.         Erle Elis, The Anthropocene: A Man-Made World (video)

                        ii.        Saving Wild Places in the Anthropocene (Science Friday audio with Bill Cronon)

18.       March 19: Ned Hettinger, “Age of Man Environmentalism and Respect for an Independent Nature”

**Friday, March 20, Paper proposal due, by email to


19.       Mar 24: “Climate Change and Ecosystem Management” by Ronald L. Sandler


20.       Mar 26: Three readings

Buffering the Sun (about David Keith and Climate Engineering)

            a.         Geoengineering and Environmental Ethics” by Dane Scott

            b.         "Can Space Reflectors Save Us? Why we Shouldn't buy into Geoengineering Fantasies" by Dale Jamieson


21.       March 31: George Monbiot on Rewilding: “Raucous Summer,” Chapter 1 of Feral and Hettinger Review of Monbiot's Feral

            a.         See also

                        i.         Monbiot TED talk on Rewilding

                        ii.        Rewilding by Derek Turner

22.       April 2: Two readings:

            a.         Re-wilding North America” by Josh Donlan et al.               

            b.         "Pleistocene Park: Does re-wilding North America represent sound conservation for the 21st century" by Rubenstein et al.


23.       April 7: “Restitution, Restoration, and Reviving Extinct Species” by Christian Diehm

            a.         See also: Ron Sandler, The Ethics of Reviving Long Extinct Species


April 8th at 5:30pm in Sottile Theater, Raj. Patel’s Sustainability Week keynote address, “The Value of Nothing: Markets & Democracy in a Time of Crisis(see Raj Patel on the Value of Nothing)


24.       Apr 9:George Monbiot, Materialism: a System that Eats us from the Inside Out

            a.         Videos: Affluenza and Growth Busters

**Friday, April 10, Paper Due, 1pm, paper copy, 14 Glebe inside mailbox


25.       Apr 14: Peter Wenz, “Personal Choices, Consumerism, and Human Nature” from Environmental Ethics Today (2001)                          

26.       Apr 16: Two readings

            a.         Jerome Segal, “Are We Simple Creatures?Philosophy & Public Policy 19 2/3: Spring/Summer 1999, pp. 14-18

                        i.         See also: The Science Of Simplicity: Why Successful People Wear The Same Thing Every Day

            b.         Judith Litchenberg, “Consuming Because Others Consume,” from “The Ethics of Consumption” Philosophy and Public Policy 15,4 Fall 1995, pp. 23-27

            c.         See also video: The Story of Stuff

27.       Apr 21: Two readings                                                

            a.         Juliet Schor, “Clothes EncountersOrion September/October 2004, p. 11

            b.         Juliet Schor, “Tackling Turbo Consumption: An Interview with Juliet Schor” from Soundings 2006

                        i.         See also: Workshop on Capitalism & Sustainability

28.       Apr 23: Two readings

            a.         Deconstructing the Shed: Where I Live and What I Live For by Samuel Alexander (on Simple Living)

            b.         David Orr, “The Designer’s Challenge” (commencement address at University of Pennsylvania)

**Final Exam (See syllabus for date)