This book offers an accessible introduction to the implications of ecology for social and political thought. The book surveys a range of debates about values in nature, the meaning of sustainable development, and such questions as whether human rights are compatible with ecological responsibilities. Sensitive throughout to the social dimension of ecological problems, it also develops a theoretical framework for ecological politics. The damage humans are inflicting on their environment, on other species and on their own future prospects on earth requires an urgent response - but what sort? Contemporary debates feature a variety of views. According to some, there must be a radical transformation of the whole trajectory of development of modern societies; this implies a fundamental challenge to the attitudes and values which have prevailed in the West since the Enlightenment. Others see a wholesale rejection of modern forms of life and thought as neither realistic nor necessary, claiming that solutions to ecological problems must be sought in a more consistent application of scientific reason.
In analysing the competing arguments, the author shows that the radical claims of ecological thought must be taken seriously, but that a non-exploitative attitude to nature is consistent with a continued commitment to Enlightenment values such as democracy, human rights and the pursuit of knowledge. This book will be of interest to all those who wish to gain a basic understanding of ecological controversies today. It will appeal to the interested lay reader and to students in environmental studies, ethics, sociology and political theory.
Table of Contents
Preface. Acknowledgements. Introduction: Environmental Values in Social and Political Thought. 1. Ecology and Enlightenment. 2. The Ethics of Ecological Humanism. 3. Environmental Economics, Sustainable Development and Political Ecology. 4. Rights and Justice in Ecological Perspective. 5. Ecological Politics. Afterword: Ecological Enlightenment. Notes. Bibliography. Index.
Tim Hayward is a lecturer in the Department of Politics, University of Edinburgh.