Environmental degradation is one of the 21st centuries most pressing concerns. Our unsustainable relationship with Nature is fueled by a long held view in Western thought that Man is separate from Nature. This Olio will attempt to provide a quick historical overview (beginning with Plato and working through the Western philosophical tradition) of the views that support this problematic relationship.
But knowing that a problem exists isn’t enough. What should be done to deal with it? Currently, the environmental literature is divided on how to best conceptualize the notion of responsibility in environmental crises. I contend there are two main competing schools of thought: (1) the Anthropic (undifferentiated responsibility) and (2) the Environmental Justice (differentiated responsibility).
In this Olio I will briefly summarize these two views and demonstrate their respective strengths and weaknesses and afterwards offer a model of responsibility based heavily on Iris Marion Young’s account that I believe integrates the best features of each approach. My hope is that the discussion will provide us all with a better idea of how we can actually go about discharging our responsibility for environmental harms.
—Rick Bass, author of The Ninemile Wolves and For A Little While: New and Selected Stories