Does nature have a conscience?
The domain of ethics has been expanding since the Stone Age, from individual to family to group to nation, and someday to, perhaps, all of nature. We will examine the ethics on non-human nature and how that ethics might be put into practice. We will ask: If humankind is part of nature, does that give nature a conscience? What is the morality of nature and the nature of morality? We will read philosophers like Albert Schweitzer and Aldo Leopold to seek an environmental ethic for modern times. We will explore whether ethics can flow from science and if environmental ethics can be absolute or depends on local customs and beliefs. Our goal is to examine ideas which could illuminate our path into the future and our relationship with the rest of nature, through this century and beyond.
Learning and Environmental Sciences Bldg., R370
Clarence Lehman is Associate Dean for Graduate Education in the College of Biological Sciences. Much of his life was in the computer field, developing computer software and hardware. A guiding principle in his research is to take part in learning to manage the earth’s combined physical-biological-social dynamics for long-term habitability, both by humans and their fellow creatures.
Jessica Hellmann is Director of the Institute on the Environment and provides overall strategic leadership for the Institute, an organization working to solve grand environmental challenges. She is also the Russell M. and Elizabeth M. Bennett Chair in Excellence in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. Hellmann’s research focuses on global change ecology and climate adaptation.