Final Exam Study Questions, Nature, Tech, Society, Sp 2013
Questions for Preston, Beyond End of Nature: SRM and Artificity in Anthropocene
1. Explain how McKibben thinks global warming results in the “end of nature.” What sense of ‘nature’ does he have in mind?
2. What is the difference between unintentional anthropogenic climate change and intentional anthropogenic climate change? Have humans engaged in the latter yet? Why not? Can one realize one’s actions will have a certain result w/o intending that they do?
3. Define “geoengineering.” Why does geoengineering the climate have a “special moral burden” according to Preston?
4. What is solar radiation management? Give some examples of ways we might attempt this.
5. Is geoengineering the climate a benign effort at restoration of the earth or an arrogant form of interference and manipulation of the climate? Explain the reasoning for each of these claims.
6. What is an “artifact?” Does geoengineering the climate turn the earth (or the climate) into a giant artifact?
7. Does infusing human intention into the genesis and being of a (previously?) natural object lessen its value? Why or why not?
8. Explain the idea of Steven Vogel’s (that Preston summarizes) that artifacts always exceed human intentions. Consider his claim that this excess is the artifact’s “nature” and that this “unanticipated wildness” exists in any artifact. Does this show that an engineered climate is not a fully unnatural artifact?
9. Evaluate Holmes Rolston’s response to solar radiation management will end nature: “Some of these schemes sound like putting up a protective layer high in the sky, so that down below the usual natural processes can go on more or less as before. That isn’t exactly ending nature; it is arranging for it to continue – albeit with a solar shield that is an artifact.”
10. Explain why and how Preston argues that geoengineering the climate would dramatically increase our responsibility for what happens on earth and thereby change our relation to the planet. Is he right that this? Discuss his claim that it is a kind of “total responsibility,” involves “taking responsibility for the ecology of the whole earth,” and gives us the responsibility to make sure at each moment that the climate is hospitable.
11. Consider the following worry about Preston’s claims above: We were not responsible for hurricanes 50 years ago. If by geoengineering the climate we return it to what it would have been if we had not warmed it (i.e., climate restoration is successful), are we then responsible for the hurricanes that appear after restoration?
Questions for Elliot’s 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.
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?
Question on Katz's "Further Adventures in the Case against Restoration"
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. Does Katz think we should restore damaged ecosystems? (See his conclusion at the end.) Is his view on this plausible given what he says about the nature of restorations?
6. Is gardening a positive way of relating to nature? Is restoration like gardening? Are gardens artifacts? What does Katz think about these matters?
7. Does Katz think we can restore for nature’s own good? Why or why not?
8. Why might one think that restoration is a copying of nature rather than a designing of nature?
9. How does Katz respond to the idea that restorations are like children in the sense that we produce them and then they autonomously do their own thing?
10. Katz describes Helena Siipi’s view that artifacts have three dimensions. What are they and do they support Katz’s idea that restorations are artifacts?
11. Is Katz right that the “conceptual distinction/dualism between humans and nature” is absolutely essential for thinking clearly and appropriately about the environment?
12. Give examples of ordinary language that supports the distinction between humans and nature or human activity and the activity of nonhumans.
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.
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, describe how the goal of historical fidelity and ecological integrity 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 for Thompson’s Responsibility for the End of Nature
1. Why does Thompson love global warming (or what positive does he see in it)?
2. What is McKibben’s argument for the “end of nature,” and what notion of “nature” is he presupposing? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
3. Is influencing something compatible with it retaining its autonomy? Explain using examples.
4. Why does Vogel think nature has already ended before Global Warming?
5. What is the “epistemic problem” about restoring to how the world would be independent of human activities?
6. How does the Red-Cockaded woopecker restoration example illustrate the epistemic problem?
7. Are humans “supernatural beings?” If one thinks that humans in important ways are not part of nature, but part of culture, does that entail they are “supernatural?”
8. Explain and evaluate the idea that nature is a social construction.
9. Explain the relationships that Thompson sees between the “present equilibrium of the atmosphere,” sense of place, and human identity. Do humans importantly identify themselves with places? How might global warming undermine a sense of place?
10. Is Thompson right that we are now responsible for the fundamental conditions of the biosphere?
11. What is it we fear about global warming according to Thompson?
12. Do you agree with Thompson that we now have the responsibility of planetary management? Do you agree that the planet is no longer larger than us? Do you agree that it is helpful to think of our relation to the planet as analogous to a parent’s relationship with a child?
Questions on Hettinger’s “Valuing Naturalness in the ‘Anthropocene’: Now More than Ever”
1. What is the “anthropocene?” Define it and explain the scientific suggestion it involves. What sort of human impacts on earth suggest we are in the “anthropocene?”
2. How does Hettinger define “naturalness?” Is it an all or nothing concept?
3. What problem or challenge does the “anthropocene” pose for those who value naturalness and believe environmentalism should importantly involve preserving and restoring it the autonomy of nature from humanity.
4. Explain and evaluate the claim that “this is the earth we have created and so we need to manage it with love and intelligence.” What does Hettinger think about this statement?
5. Explain and evaluate the claim that “the fundamental conditions of the biosphere are something that we collectively are responsible for.” What does Hettinger think about this statement?
6. Describe various possible alternative metaphors about how humans should relate to the earth that are different from to the idea that we are “managers of this place.” What metaphor do you approve of and why?
7. Why does Hettinger think naturalness becomes more, not less, important in the anthropocene?
8. Explain and evaluate Hettinger’s response to this claim: “An interesting way to look at nature now in the Anthropocene is that nature is something we have created. There really is nothing around that has not been touched by us.” Do we live in a “world of our own making?”
9. What are some of the ways that Hettinger thinks significant degrees of naturalness can return to a piece of nature even after it has been significantly manipulated by humans?
10. What does Hettinger think is wrong with this argument: Because of climate change and other human disturbances, there really is no way to “go back” to an earlier pristine nature. Therefore our only option is to move forward into a thoroughly managed future where humans decide how nature will behave. Assume that Hettinger agrees with the first statement, why would he still reject the second?
11. What does Hettinger think about the question of whether or not humans are natural/part of nature, or unnatural/separate from nature?
12. What does Hettinger think about the idea that human flourishing will be achieved to the extent that humans have the freedom and ability to control nature?
Questions about Affluenza Film
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? 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.
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. What is simple living? Describe the voluntary simplicity movement. Is this a desirable alternative lifestyle in your opinion? Why or why not?
Study questions for Wenz on Consumerism and Human Nature
1. What does Wenz mean by “environmental synergism.” Do you think the claims it involves are true? Why does he think consumerism is opposed to synergism?
2. What are some of the arguments in favor of consumerism that Wenz addresses and what are his responses?
3. What response do critics of consumerism have to the claim that we need to keep increasing consumption or employment will suffer? How does increase in worker productivity add to the worry that increased consumption is necessary to prevent unemployment?
4. In what way does Wenz think high consumption is addictive? Give examples
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?
10. What does Segal have in mind by “simple living?”
11. Explain why Segal thinks the case for simple living depends on the idea that we are not simple, but complex creatures.
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 that 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.
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 optimistic or hopeful about the future? Why or why not?
5. What are some of the principles of good ecological 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 one of his examples of a problematic use of technology. How does he propose to solve such problematic uses?