Environmental Ethics as Processes of Open-Ended, Pluralistic, Deliberative Enquiry

Authored by: Lausanne Olvitt

International Handbook of Research on Environmental Education

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415892384
eBook ISBN: 9780203813331
Adobe ISBN: 9781136699313


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By the very nature of their work, environmental education researchers must engage with environmental philosophy and questions of values and ethics. But this terrain, despite being resourced with an apparently endless supply of typologies, anthologies, and handbooks, can remain a vast and daunting philosophical sea—at least in my experience as a newcomer to the field, and possibly for many other scholars and researchers. This essay makes no claim to altering that and instead optimistically pursues Ball's (2001, p. 89) suggestion that “there is much to be learned about, and from, the philosophical life-forms inhabiting these thickets and swamps.” My intention here is to review a relatively small but growing cluster of work in environmental ethics that proposes that: “Ethical positions are always open for discussion, re-examination, and revision” (Jickling, 2004, p. 16) and are thus, by their very nature, open-ended, relational processes. My starting point in writing this essay is as an educator-researcher-environmentalist trying to explore what the field of environmental ethics has to offer in response to the question: “As educators, how can we learn and do more with others in the face of an unprecedented socioecological crisis?

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