Philosophy 245: Environmental Philosophy

T/Th 1:40-2:55, Education Center 111


     Ned Hettinger                                                                             Office: 16 Glebe, Rm. 201

     Fall 2012                                                                                    Office Hrs: Wednesday 10-2

     Office Phone: 953-5786                                                             (Also, stop by my office or

     Email:                                                      make an appointment)


     Course webpage:

Course Description

     This course examines three areas of research in contemporary environmental philosophy: (1) The ethics of global warming, (2) Environmental aesthetics, and (3) The ethical treatment of wild and domesticated animals. Questions include: Who has obligations in response to the changing climate and what are they? Should we, for example, geo-engineer the climate? Do you have a duty to stop driving your gas guzzler even though it arguably will have no affect on global warming? Are there standards for the appreciation of natural beauty? Is all of nature beautiful? Can natural beauty provide a justification for environmental protection? Do obligations to wild animals differ from those toward domesticated animals? Ought we to prevent the suffering of wild animals? Is painless killing of animals problematic?

     Please note: This course is not an introductory survey of environmental ethics; Such an introduction is provided by Philosophy 155: Environmental Ethics. Rather, this class is an advanced treatment of specific topics in the broader field of environmental philosophy.


    Stephen Gardiner, Simon Caney, Dale Jamieson, & Henry Shue, Climate Ethics: Essential Readings (Oxford, 2010)

    Glenn Parsons, Aesthetics and Nature (Continuum, 2008)

    Clare Palmer, Animal Ethics in Context (Columbia, 2010)



    Three exams (42%): There will be an exam at the end of each of the three units.

    Major Paper (including a paper proposal) (34%): A 6-8 page paper on some topic in the area of environmental philosophy. A paper proposal is due on Friday, Nov 2nd (by email). The paper is due on Friday, November 16th.

    Critical questions (4%): Two days on which you write critical questions or comments on the board before class. These should raise a question, objection, or issue about the reading for that day. Be prepared to speak to the class about your issue. Please also provide me with a paper copy of your question/comment/issue. You will sign up for these.

    Reading Quizzes (10%): There will be unannounced quizzes on the reading for the day (approximately 10 for the semester). I do not give quiz makeups, but I give “free quizzes opportunities” that can be used to substitute for a missed quiz. Also, if you will be absent, you may email me a summary of the reading for that day before the class begins and this will count for the quiz should there be one.

    Class Participation and Attendance (10%): This includes general quality of class involvement and attendance. Attendance is particularly important in this class. I want you to learn from each other and from class discussion. Developing the skill of thinking philosophically requires practice and following examples. These can't be adequately done on your own. Poor attendance will lower your grade; extremely poor attendance is sufficient grounds for failing the course. If you have a good reason for missing class, please email me an explanation. Please also come to class on time: Assignments, reading quizzes and an attendance sheet are given at the beginning of class. It is your responsibility to sign the attendance sheet. If the sheet somehow misses you during the class, please come up after class and sign it.

    Grading Scale: I use the College’s numeric grading scale. A = 4.0 , A- = 3.7, B+ = 3.3, B = 3.0, B- = 2.7, C+ = 2.3, C = 2.0, C- = 1.7, D+ = 1.3, D = 1.0, D- = 0.7, F = 0.0