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Environmental Philosophy: An Introduction



Environmental Philosophy: An Introduction

Simon P. James

ISBN: 978-0-745-69139-8 June 2015 Polity 240 Pages


Climate change, habitat loss, rising extinction rates - such problems call for more than just new policies and practices. They raise fundamental questions about the world and our place in it. What, for instance, is the natural world? Do we humans belong to it? Which parts of it are we morally obliged to protect?

Drawing on an exceptionally wide range of sources, from virtue ethics to Buddhism, leading environmental philosopher Simon P. James sets out to answer these vitally important questions.

The book begins with a discussion of animal minds, before moving on to explore our moral relations with non-human organisms, ecosystems and the earth as a whole. James then considers environmental aesthetics, humanity's place in the natural world and the question of what it means to be wild. In the concluding chapter, he applies his findings to the topic of global climate change, building a strong moral case for urgent action.

This accessible, entertainingly written book will be essential reading for students of the environment across the humanities and social sciences. It will, moreover, be an ideal guide for anyone keen to deepen their understanding of environmental issues.


Introduction: What is Environmental Philosophy?

1: Animal Suffering, and Why it Matters

2: Beyond Animal Liberation,

3: Biocentrism and Ecocentrism

4: Questions of Value

5: How Should one Live?

6: The Aesthetics of Nature

7: Nature, Wild and Restored

8: Climate Change


"Environmental Philosophy is an extremely readable introduction to the field. Clearly written and carefully argued, its discussion of recent philosophical approaches is admirably broad. It draws on a rich set of real-world cases and shows a keen awareness of contemporary environmental issues such animal ethics, climate change, and ecosystem services."
Emily Brady, Professor of Environment and Philosophy, University of Edinburgh

'Simon James has written an engaging book that covers many of the most important philosophical questions raised by environmental issues, and is well suited to serve as a text for a course in environmental philosophy.'
Peter Singer, AC, Princeton University

'Addressing a subject both diffuse and urgent, James's account concentrates on a well-chosen handful of its most essential challenges. He also ensures that theory, no matter how complex, is grounded in practice. The result is the most comprehensive and accessible introduction to environmental philosophy I know.'
Patrick Curry, University of Wales Trinity St David