Philosophy 245: Environmental Philosophy

T/Th 10:50-12:05, Maybank 206


       Ned Hettinger                                                                                          Office: 16 Glebe, Rm. 201

       Fall 2011                                                                                                 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 some contemporary developments in environmental philosophy, including environmental virtue ethics, the ethics of global warming, whether anthropocentric and nonanthropocentric environmental policies converge, and environmental aesthetics. Questions include: To what extent are greed, self-indulgence and short-sightedness responsible for environmental problems and what virtues can lead us toward a sustainable future? Who has obligations in response to the changing climate and what are they? Should we, for example, geoengineer the climate? Do I as in individual have a duty to stop driving my gas guzzling car even though it arguably will have no affect on global warming? Do concern for humans and concern for nonhumans lead to the same environmental policies? In what does nature’s beauty consist and can natural beauty provide a strong justification for environmental protection?

This course is not an introductory survey of the field of environmental ethics (such an introduction is provided by Philosophy 155: Environmental Ethics).



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

     Glenn Parsons, Aesthetics and Nature (Continuum, 2008)

     Readings from class web page




     Midterm Exam (23%), Thursday, Oct 6

     Final Exam (23%), Tuesday, Dec 13, 8am

     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, October 28. The paper is due on Friday, November 18th (or Tuesday, Dec 6th if on env aesthetics)..

     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” 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