Conservation in the Anthropocene: How Should We Value the World We have Made?

Thursday, May 7, 2015 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Johnson Center, Room G

You are welcome to participate in a symposium sponsored by the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy (IPPP) at George Mason University.  Below is a summary of what will be discussed:

The goal of environmental conservation has traditionally been understood in terms of the preservation of the natural world from human influence. A group of environmentalists, known as “New Conservationists” or “Eco- modernists,” have recently challenged this orthodoxy.  New Conservationists argue that fencing areas of nature off from human influence has become unworkable because human influence is nearly everywhere, from the intentional and unintentional spread of invasive species, to the influence of climate change. They argue instead for a conception of the natural world that includes worked landscapes, even urban environments. Against this view, mainstream conservationists argue that these revisionists are abandoning the basic ethic of conservationism, which is to see in nature’s spontaneous course spiritual, ethical, and aesthetic values, and that such an approach may threaten the protection of the last remaining natural landscapes. This workshop will discuss this contentious debate among conservationists by analyzing the concepts and values that inform it.


Benjamin Hale (University of Colorado. Co-editor, Ethics, Policy, and Environment):
“Wildness without Naturalness: Expanding Environmental Focus in the Anthropocene”

Marion Hourdequin (Colorado College. Author of Environmental Ethics: From Theory to Practice):
“Wilderness, Climate Change, and the Anthropocene”

Kenneth Shockley (SUNY-Buffalo. Co-editor, Ethics and the Anthropocene):
“Nature and Flourishing in the Anthropocene: A Healthy Dependence in an
Unhealthy World”

Allen Thompson (Oregon State University. Co-editor, The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Ethics):
“Novel Ecosystems, Conservation, and Adaptive Ecosystem Management”

Mark Sagoff (George Mason University. Author of The Economy of the Earth):
“The Theology of the Anthropocene”