Ethics of Environmental Responsibility

Subject 161-519 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2009.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour lecture / seminar per week
Total Time Commitment: 2 contact hours/week, 8 additional hours/week. Total of 10 hours per week.
Prerequisites: Admission to the Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Ethics or MA in Professional and Applied Ethics, or permission from the subject coordinator.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Andrew Alexandra
Subject Overview: In this subject we will draw on and examine philosophical theories of responsibility as a means to understand specific environmental controversies. The particular controversies examined may vary from year-to-year in the light of class interests, but may include: procreation, liberty and population; our relation to the natural world; intergenerational justice; the ‘precautionary principle’; market solutions to environmental problems; valuing and preserving wild nature.
Objectives: Students who successfully complete this subject will
  • have developed an understanding of the major philosophical theories of responsibility and their application to issues of public policy
  • have developed an understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of influential modes of thinking about the environment
Assessment: One 1,500 word assignment 30% (due early in the semester). One 3,500 essay 70% (due at the end of semester).
Prescribed Texts: A subject reader will be available from the Bookroom at the beginning of semester
Recommended Texts: Attfield, R. 1987. A Theory of Value and Obligation, London: Croom Helm. Barry, J. 1999. Rethinking Green Politics, London: Sage. Brennan, A. 1988. Thinking About Nature, London Routledge. Callicott, J. B. 1989. In Defense of the Land Ethic: Essays in Environmental Philosophy, Albany: SUNY Press. 1999. Beyond the Land Ethic: More Essays in Environmental Philosophy, Albany: SUNY Press. Clark, S. R. L. 1977. The Moral Status of Animals, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Devall and Sessions 1985. Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered, Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith. Dobson, A. (ed.) 1999 Fairness and Futurity: Essays on Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice, Oxford: Oxford University Press Eckersley, R. 1992. Environmentalism and Political Theory, London: UCL Press. Feinberg, J. 1974. The Rights of Animals and Unborn Generations’, in W. T. Blackstone (ed.), Philosophy and Environmental Crisis, Athens: University of Georgia Press, pp. 43-68. Gruen, L. and Jamieson, D. (eds) 1994. Reflecting on Nature, New York: Oxford University Press. Hayward, Tim, and O'Neill, John, (eds.) 1997 Justice, Property and the Environment: Social and Legal Perspectives, Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Co., 1997. . Kant, I. ‘Duties to Animals and Spirits’, in Louis Infield trans., Lectures on Ethics, New York: Harper and Row, 1963. Katz, E. 1997. Nature as Subject, New York: Rowman and Littlefield. Light, A. and Katz, E. 1996. Environmental Pragmatism, London: Routledge. List, P. C. 1993. Radical Environmentalism, Belmont: Wadsworth. Mill, J. S. 1874. ‘Nature’, in Three Essays on Religion, London: Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer. Naess, A. 1973. ‘The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement’, Inquiry 16, reprinted in Sessions 1995, pp. 151-5. 1989. Ecology, Community, Lifestyle, trans. and ed. D. Rothenberg, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. O'Neill, J. 1993. Ecology, Policy and Politics, London: Routledge. Passmore, J. 1974. Man's Responsibility for Nature, London: Duckworth, 2nd ed., 1980. Plumwood, V. 1993. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature, London: Routledge. Regan, T. and Singer, P. (eds.) 1976. Animal Rights and Human Obligations, Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. Rolston, H. 1989. Philosophy Gone Wild, New York: Prometheus Books. Sagoff, M. 1988. The Economy of the Earth, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Schmidtz, D. and Willott, E. 2002 Environmental Ethics: What Really Matters, What Really Works, New York: Oxford University Press. Sessions, G. (ed) 1995. Deep Ecology for the 21st Century, Boston: Shambhala 1995. Singer, P. 1975. Animal Liberation, New York: Random House.
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • have improved their ability to integrate abstract moral and conceptual considerations with relevant empirical data
  • have refined the skills necessary for original research by developing the capacity to think rigorously, imaginatively and critically about abstract topics;
  • have refined the skills required for written communication of research
  • have strengthened their ability to comprehend and evaluate complex argumentative texts
Related Course(s): Master of Arts in Professional and Applied Ethics

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