Benjamin Hale

Benjamin Hale is Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy at the University of Colorado Boulder.

  • The Wild and the Wicked

    The Wild and the Wicked

    On Nature and Human Nature

    Benjamin Hale

    A brief foray into a moral thicket, exploring why we should protect nature despite tsunamis, malaria, bird flu, cancer, killer asteroids, and tofu.

    Most of us think that in order to be environmentalists, we have to love nature. Essentially, we should be tree huggers—embracing majestic redwoods, mighty oaks, graceful birches, etc. We ought to eat granola, drive hybrids, cook tofu, and write our appointments in Sierra Club calendars. Nature's splendor, in other words, justifies our protection of it. But, asks Benjamin Hale in this provocative book, what about tsunamis, earthquakes, cancer, bird flu, killer asteroids? They are nature, too.

    For years, environmentalists have insisted that nature is fundamentally good. In The Wild and the Wicked, Benjamin Hale adopts the opposite position—that much of the time nature can be bad—in order to show that even if nature is cruel, we still need to be environmentally conscientious. Hale argues that environmentalists needn't feel compelled to defend the value of nature, or even to adopt the attitudes of tree-hugging nature lovers. We can acknowledge nature's indifference and periodic hostility. Deftly weaving anecdote and philosophy, he shows that we don't need to love nature to be green. What really ought to be driving our environmentalism is our humanity, not nature's value.

    Hale argues that our unique burden as human beings is that we can act for reasons, good or bad. He claims that we should be environmentalists because environmentalism is right, because we humans have the capacity to be better than nature. As humans, we fail to live up to our moral potential if we act as brutally as nature. Hale argues that despite nature's indifference to the plight of humanity, humanity cannot be indifferent to the plight of nature.

    • Hardcover $29.95

Contributor

  • The Environment

    The Environment

    Philosophy, Science, and Ethics

    William P. Kabasenche, Michael O'Rourke, and Matthew H. Slater

    Original essays by leading scholars consider the environment from biological and ethical perspectives.

    Philosophical reflections on the environment began with early philosophers' invocation of a cosmology that mixed natural and supernatural phenomena. Today, the central philosophical problem posed by the environment involves not what it can teach us about ourselves and our place in the cosmic order but rather how we can understand its workings in order to make better decisions about our own conduct regarding it. The resulting inquiry spans different areas of contemporary philosophy, many of which are represented by the fifteen original essays in this volume.

    The contributors first consider conceptual problems generated by rapid advances in biology and ecology, examining such topics as ecological communities, adaptation, and scientific consensus. The contributors then turn to epistemic and axiological issues, first considering philosophical aspects of environmental decision making and then assessing particular environmental policies (largely relating to climate change), including reparations, remediation, and nuclear power, from a normative perspective.

    ContributorsKatie McShane, Robert Brandon, Rachel Bryant, Michael Trestman, Brian Steverson, Denis Walsh, Lorraine Code, Jay Odenbaugh, Joseph Cannon, Mariam Thalos, Chrisoula Andreou, Clare Palmer, Ben Hale, Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Andrew Light

    • Hardcover $40.00