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Arne Naess stipend

Master student Development, Environment and Cultural Change, SUM, UiO

Master thesis

Tentative title: Finding environmental ethics in ecological policy: an argument for an applied environmental ethic


It is generally understood that environmental dilemmas require the contributions of both philosophy and science. Science brings a systematic, testable understanding of physical and chemical relationships within the environment, whereas philosophy analyzes these relationships from a moral perspective, a discipline formally known as environmental ethics. Unfortunately, though governing bodies have made efforts to include environmental ethics in creating ecological policy, it is unclear how or to what extent. Ethical frameworks have remained largely theoretical, loosely linked, and “devoted to value clarification” instead of a practical discipline. (Minteer 2012)

Though it is easy to dismiss the field as something that will remain esoteric, the success of bioethics as an applied philosophy should give us pause. Like environmental ethics, bioethics is a field that aims to understand biological relationships through a moral lens. Both fields reflect issues of importance in the contemporary world and are politically relevant. Instead of focusing on nature at large, bioethics studies human relationships, and unlike environmental ethics, has successfully applied itself to global policy making. As such, this project will look at the general success of bioethics as an applied philosophy and will analyze why environmental ethics has had limited practical influence on policy in comparison. Ultimately, it will argue for a reformulation of the current state of environmental ethics towards a more policy-oriented position using pragmatism. 


Kristian Bjørkdahl

Tags: Arne Næss
Published Feb. 11, 2019 2:30 PM - Last modified Mar. 22, 2019 1:05 PM