Tenth Annual Meeting on Environmental Philosophy - June 2013 Tenth Annual Meeting on Environmental Philosophy - June 2013

Please note: This event has now taken place.

International Society for Environmental Ethics (ISEE)

"Thinking and Acting Ecologically"

12-14 June 2013, The University of East Anglia, UK


Report on the Tenth Annual Joint Meeting on Environmental Philosophy


The Tenth Annual Meeting of the ISEE was held at the University of East Anglia in the UK from June 12-14 2013.

It was the second time that the meeting has been held outside of the United States and the first time in the UK.

The meeting was a great success, bringing together scholars from various continents and several generations. We were particularly happy that Holmes Rolston decided to join us at the last minute, contributing his vast knowledge and experience in acute and perceptive observations at many of the sessions.

The meeting featured two keynotes lectures, plenary lectures, panels, and parallel sessions. We wanted to invite contributions from scholars and thinkers whose work falls outside of mainstream topics in environmental ethics and to bring them together with those working on contemporary concerns and those revisiting classic problems. Iain McGilchrist's keynote lecture set the tone for the meeting, showing the deep relevance of his research into the different styles of thinking associated with the two brain hemispheres for understanding and tackling destructive environmental attitudes and practices. Several participants later commented on the new perspective that the lecture gave them on their own work. The first evening then saw a vigorous debate between Philip Cafaro and Allen Thompson, with comments from Holmes Rolston, concerning the most appropriate response to recognizing the current geological era as the Anthropocene.

Tom Greaves and Rupert Read started the second day with a plenary lecture on the ecological conditions of valuation and their implications in a critique of contemporary projects for valuing nature. In the evening we hosted a wonderful session of short talks and debate via weblink with three scholars in the United States: Ted Toadvine, Katie McShane, and Jeremy Bendick-Keymer. The session was designed to minimize our carbon emissions and turned out to be a great success. We very much hope that this kind of session becomes more prevalent at Environmental Ethics conferences and beyond. Among other benefits, including such sessions in the future could increase interactions among the widely scattered practitioners of environmental philosophy. Simon James gave the second keynote lecture, arguing forcefully with a reading of Wordsworth, that the intrinsic connection between place and identity can illuminate the problem of the moral status of the nonhuman. A second plenary panel discussion continued the theme of opening environmental ethics to new influences, with talks from Ruth Makoff on the inadequacies of environmental liberalism in political philosophy and Larry Lohmann on issues of translation and political struggle. A final plenary panel featured UEA academics from various fields—Liz McKinnell from Philosophy, Mike Hulme from Environmental Science, John Turnpenny from Political and International Relations, together with ISEE president Phil Cafaro— to offer their reflections on the meeting as a whole. Together with these plenary sessions, we also heard papers in a series of extremely stimulating and productive parallel sessions that were very wide-ranging in philosophical method and perspective. One significant theme was the analysis and critique of reductive methods of valuing nature, such as the ecosystems services paradigm. In keeping with the precedent set at previous ISEE meetings, delegates were also given the opportunity to take their philosophical thinking and discussion beyond of the classroom. The meeting featured an amazing dramatization of the UEA playwright Steve Waters's climate change play The Contingency Plan, a picnic, and a guided wildlife walk. It also included a screening and discussion with the director of the docu-drama Green, a powerful film about the causes and consequences deforestation in Indonesia.


Papers Presented


The Anthropocene (Plenary)

• Philip Cafaro, "Recognizing Limits and Preserving Wild Nature: A Superior Alternative to Embracing the Anthropocene"

• Allen Thompson, "Adaptation at the Heart of Ethics for the Anthropocene"

• Holmes Rolston, "Comments on Cafaro and Thompson"



• Lewis Coyne, "Aesthetics of the Earth" • Nicholas Wiltsher, "Individual Aesthetics, Collective Ethics"

• Maria del Mar Rosa, "The Anthropocene and its Aesthetic Consequences"


Questioning Instrumental Approaches to Ecosystems

• Paul Knights, "Rejecting Functionalism of Ecosystems Services"

• Sitjn Neuteleers, "Should Biodiversity be Useful?"

• Mike Hannis, "Virtues of Acknowledged Ecological Dependence"


Politics and Activism

• Jason Matske and Malgorzata Dereniowska, "On Compromise in Environmental Activism"

• Keith Peterson, "What's Blocking Environmental Culture?"

• Lilin Keschbaumer, "Boating through the Desert?: Philosophy and Politics of Water Allocation"


Acting For and With Nature

• Fran Speed, "Ecology without ‘Nature'?"

• Sanne van de Hout, "Critical Reflections on the Biomimetic Turn"

• Jonathan Beever, "The Intrinsicality of Value: Soundscapes"


New Horizons in Ethics

• Yogi Hendlin, "Interspecies Discourse Ethics: Listening and Horizons of Understanding"

• Elisa Aatola, "From Anamnesis to Elevation: Should Wilderness Experience be a Moral Duty?"


 Future Justice

• Christian Baatz, "Individual Responsibility and Global Environmental Problems" (presented by Lieske Voget- Kelschin)

• Liz McKinnell, "Time, Identity and Intergenerational Justice"

• Chelsea Mae Haramia, "Future Generations, Present Responsibilities"


Religious and Secular Nature

• Robin Attfield, "Secular Stewardship"

• Konrad Ott, "The Hebrew Story of Creation and Contemporary Environmental Ethics"

• Ian Kidd, "Nature's Mystery"


Culture and Practice

• Charles Wright, "Gardening and the Practice of Ecological Reciprocity"

• Philipp Thapa, "Hobbit Virtues and Environmental Culture"

• Wallace Heim, "Witnessing the Ethical and Re-placing the Human in Outdoor Dance Practices"


Nineteenth Century Thinkers: Ecological Being before the Age of Ecology

• Jake Greear, "Thoreau's Peripatetic Asceticism: Walking, Wilderness and Truth"

• Neil Williams, "Environmentalist William James"

• Piers Stephens, "Nature and Civilisation: J. S. Mill"



Dr Tom Greaves, Philosophy, Arts 1 Building, University of East Anglia, NR4 7TJ, UK

 T.Greaves@uea.ac.uk   ++44 (0)1603 593187