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J. Baird Callicott is professor of philosophy and religion studies at the University of North Texas. He is president of the International Society for Environmental Ethics. Callicott has authored Earth's Insights: A Multicultural Survey of Ecological Ethics from the Mediterranean Basin to the Australian Outback, In Defense of the Land Ethic: Essays in Environmental Philosophy, Beyond Land Ethics: More Essays in Environmental Philosophy, and more than a hundred book chapters, journal articles, encyclopedia entries, and book reviews; he is editor or co-editor of The Great New Wilderness Debate, Earth Summit Ethics: Toward A Reconstructive Postmodern Philosophy of Environmental Education, Environmental Philosophy: From Animal Rights to Radical Ecology, The River of the Mother of God and Other Essays by Aldo Leopold, Nature in Asian Traditions of Thought: Essays in Comparative Environmental Philosophy, and A Companion to a Sand Country Almanac: Interpretive and Critical Essays.

 

Abstract of paper given at Judaism and Ecology conference:
Current Issues in Environmental Philosophy

The agenda-setting essay for a future environmental philosophy was Lynn White, Jr.'s, "The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis." White's superficial (in every sense of the word) claim was that the human-nature relationship set out in Genesis was the ultimate cause for the twentieth century's environmental problems. His more profound claim was that modern technology, the proximate cause for the twentieth century's environmental problems, didn't just happen. It emerged in a distinct climate of thought. Hence, White argued, to really change our ways of engaging nature we have to rethink what he called the "man-nature" relationship--a task that falls squarely within the purview of philosophy and religion. That task has two moments. The first is critical: identify and criticize the ideas inherited from the past that led us into the valley of the shadow of ecological death. The second is creative: think up the new ideas that will lead us out of that baleful valley. That two-pronged agenda has driven research in environmental philosophy ever since.

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Judaism and Ecology conference participants

Culminating conference participants