Environmental Philosophy, Lecture seven

From theory to action

In environmental philosophy there exist three dominant views on the method for going from theory to action. First there is the view that philosophy is not in the business of persuading people. Second is the view that there is a certain gap between philosophy and action, but that philosophy can help encourage action. Last is the view that philosophy on it's own is action.

The problem of democracy

In democracy, proposals need to be popular in order to be adopted. This can put democracy in the way of progress. The general criticisms and shortcomings of democracy a will not be discussed here. Individual action is thus the only thing left for activists to do. However a single activist lacks the critical mass needed for serious environmental impact. This critical mass is generally not achieved due to the lack of coordination in environmental circles according to De Shalit in “‘From Environmental Ethics to Environmental Action”. There are scientists with the data, governments with the funding and activists with the time and resolve but the coordination and cooperation between these groups is lacking.

Social ontology

The question of whether individual action is purposeful or not is one for social ontology. In this form of ontology, there are two dominant views. Fist, there is the Eliminativist view which holds that groups ontologically speaking do not exist. They are merely a collection of individuals without emergent properties. This implies that individual action does have an impact because it is the only form of action that exists. Second there is Emergentism which claims that a group is a particular agent separate from it's member agents. In oder for such a group to form, the individuals need to be united under a collective will.