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Christianity, Ecology, and the Variety of Life
Life on earth is wildly diverse, but the future of that diversity is now in question. Through environmentally destructive farming practices, ever-expanding energy use, and the development and homogenization of land, human beings are responsible for unprecedented reductions in the variety of life forms around us. Estimates suggest that species extinctions caused by humans occur at up to 1,000 times the natural rate, and that one of every twenty species on the planet could be eradicated by 2060. An Ethics of Biodiversity argues that these facts should inspire careful reflection and action in Christian churches, which must learn from earthÆs vast diversity in order to help conserve the natural and social diversity of our planet. Bringing scientific data into conversation with theological tradition, the book shows that biodiversity is a point of intersection between faith and ethics, social justice and environmentalism, science and politics, global problems and local solutions. An Ethics of Biodiversity offers a set of tools for students, environmentalists, and people of faith to think critically about how human beings can live with and as part of the variety of life in God's creation.
The second edition includes a new preface and introduction, as well as a bibliographic essay and an updated list of references incorporating relevant scholarship since the publication of the first edition.
Hermann Cohen’s essay on Maimonides’ ethics is one of the most fundamental texts of twentieth-century Jewish philosophy, correlating Platonic, prophetic, Maimonidean, and Kantian traditions. Almut Sh. Bruckstein provides the first English translation and her own extensive commentary on this landmark 1908 work, which inspired readings of medieval and rabbinic sources by Leo Strauss, Franz Rosenzweig, and Emmanuel Levinas.
Cohen rejects the notion that we should try to understand texts of the past solely in the context of their own historical era. Subverting the historical order, he interprets the ethical meanings of texts in the light of a future yet to be realized. He commits the entire Jewish tradition to a universal socialism prophetically inspired by ideals of humanity, peace, and universal justice.
Through her own probing commentary on Cohen’s text, like the margin notes of a medieval treatise, Bruckstein performs the hermeneutical act that lies at the core of Cohen’s argument: she reads Jewish sources from a perspective that recognizes the interpretive act of commentary itself.
Chinese and Western Perspectives on Morality
This book closely examines texts from Chinese and Western traditions that hold up ethics as the inviolable ground of human existence, as well as those that regard ethics with suspicion. The negative notion of morality contends that because ethics cannot be divorced from questions of belonging and identity, there is a danger that it can be nudged into the domain of the unethical, since ethical virtues can become properties to be possessed with which the recognition of others is solicited. Ethics thus fosters the very egoism it hopes to transcend, and risks excluding the unfamiliar and the stranger. The author argues inspirationally that the unethical underbelly of ethics must be recognized in order to ensure that it remains vibrant.
"Those who think they know George Dickieâ€™s views should be sure to read this book. They are in for some interesting surprises. Of course, those unfamiliar with Dickieâ€™s views will also learn a lot." â€”Anita Silvers, San Francisco State University In this book George Dickie presents a theory about how to judge a work of artâ€”as opposed to a theory that explains why a particular work is defined as art. Focusing mainly on the writings of Monroe Beardsley and critically examining the views of seven other philosophers and art criticsâ€”Paul Ziff, Frank Sibley, Nelson Goodman, Nicholas Wolterstorff, David Hume, Bruce Vermazen, and J. O. Urmsonâ€”Dickie synthesizes their insights to discover what can be derived from their theories. On this basis, he attempts to work out a theory of art evaluationâ€”the first such book on this topic by a contemporary philosopher. Initially, the author outlines all possible theories of art evaluation, assuming that traditional evaluative notions are used. He identifies seven theory-types that fall under four general headings: imitation value theory, objective intrinsic value theories, subjective intrinsic value theory, and instrumental value theories. Dickie then discusses the historical development of the theory of art evaluation, examining the ways in which eighteenth- and nineteenth-century philosophers treated representation and other cognitive dimensions of art as artistic values. His thorough analysis of the work of other contemporary theorists argues for a theory of art evaluation derived from various strands of thought.
In a challenge to current thinking about cognitive impairment, this book explores what it means to treat people with intellectual disabilities in an ethical manner. Reassessing philosophical views of intellectual disability, Licia Carlson shows how we can affirm the dignity and worth of intellectually disabled people first by ending comparisons to nonhuman animals and then by confronting our fears and discomforts. Carlson presents the complex history of ideas about cognitive disability, the treatment of intellectually disabled people, and social and cultural reactions to them. Sensitive and clearly argued, this book offers new insights on recent trends in disability studies and philosophy.
Levinas and Environmental Thought
Despite its attention to questions of ethics and “the ethical,” contemporary continental philosophy has often been disengaged from inquiring into our ethical obligation to nature and the environment. In response to this vacuum in the literature, Facing Nature simultaneously makes Levinasian resources more accessible to practitioners in the diverse fields of environmental thought while demonstrating the usefulness of continental philosophy for addressing major issues in environmental thought. Drawing on the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, these scholars approach environmental philosophy from both humanistic and nonanthropocentric points of view. On the one hand, the book contributes to the discussion of environmental justice as well as the growth of ecophilosophical literature. At the same time, some of the essays take an interpretive approach to Levinas’s thought, finding that his work is able to speak to environmental thinkers whose positions actually diverge quite sharply from his own. While recognizing the limitations of Levinas’s writings from an environmental perspective, Facing Nature argues that themes at the heart of his work—the significance of the ethical, responsibility, alterity, the vulnerability of the body, bearing witness, and politics—are important for thinking about many of our most pressing contemporary environmental questions. Essays specifically highlight the otherness of nature, the vulnerability and suffering of nonhuman animals, the idea of an interspecies politics, the role of nature in ethical life, individual responsibility for climate change, and the Jewish understanding of creation as points of contact between Levinas’s philosophical project and environmental thought. Levinas is also brought into conversation with dialogue partners who enhance this connection, such as Theodor Adorno, Hanna Arendt, Tim Yilngayarri, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Henry David Thoreau. While widely relevant to all those who attempt to think through our ethical relation to the natural world, Facing Nature will be of special interest to scholars and students interested in both continental philosophy and the manifold areas of environmental studies.
This book of original essays provides a dialogue between four of the most distinguished scholars now working on problems of faith, reason, and skepticism. In their essays, William P. Alston, Robert Audi, Terence Penelhum, and Richard H. Popkin address both the corrosive and the constructive influences of skepticism on Christian and Jewish concepts of faith. The authors treat questions of perennial interest in philosophy of religion: the bases of human knowledge of God, the place of reason in religious belief, the difference between religious beliefs and those based on common sense, and the reconcilability of skepticism with religious belief. In terms of current epistemology, Alston explores the implications of reliabilism for Christian knowledge of God. Audi develops a concept of non-doxastic faith, which contrasts with flat-out beliefs, arguing that such faith can support a full range of Christian attitudes and ethics. Penelhum contends that religious beliefs cannot be defended in the same way as beliefs of common sense, and thus natural theology is essential. Popkin demonstrates, in a richly historical study, that Jewish skepticism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was used and can be used to neutralize questionable metaphysical theology while leaving a mysticism and spirituality without creed or institution. The essays are preceded by an Editorâ€™s Introduction and the volume concludes with a unifying dialogue between the four authors.