Sunday, January 16, 2011

climate philosophy

--climate happenings are at blisterdata--

The Climate Philosophy Newsletter 4 (2010-2011) is out. Climate Ethics is now officially a new branch on the tree of philosophy.

The Newsletter raises the bar in several ways. Resistance against the new field is on the defensive and, I believe, weakening. It was now possible to add a link to climate philosophy to the homepage (bottom right) of the Philosophy Department at the University of South Florida. It was not yet possible to put an "official" link (top right) at the homepage, but that's a detail. It was also possible to put the Newsletter on its own page at the university. It was not yet possible to give it an URL such as 'philosophy/climate/' or some such; it still had to be put on my faculty site. There were also reservations to paste the departmental logo on the climate philosophy site; some, it appears, feel more comfortable to keep climate at arm's length, but the College webmaster was agreeable to put a return link to USF philosophy on the climate page.

Interesting is also a generational divide regarding this new field. The Newsletter research section shows six members of the USF Philosophy department to have contributed in the past year. All of them are young. In the last department meeting, my announcement of the newsletter was met with somber faces by most colleagues my age. Senior colleagues, however, were happy and expressed their congratulations. This is how paradigm shifts happen: the old and the young can think outside the box, but the middle-aged ones "are" the box.

Noteworthy about the research section are the many publishers now involved in the new field, such as Continuum, Lit Verlag, Ashgate, Blackwell, MIT Press, Ria University Press, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Routledge, Taylor & Francis, Trinity, Earthscan, Fortress Press. The London-based publishing house Continuum appears to have cornered the market. Cambridge, Routledge etc. are trying to catch up. Apart from MIT Press, there is no single conventional US academic press that touches the new stuff yet, but considering that US Americans are largely at fault for climate change, this is not really a surprise. For Americans, countenancing the perpetration of climate change must be painful.

Five philosophy journals have published or have slated for publication topic issues on climate, such as Essays in Philosophy (2010), Human Ecology Review (2010), Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (2011), The Monist (2011), and Journal of Global Ethics (2011).

In Florida, a state of forty-five universities with Philosophy departments and three research universities, a request for news distributed through the listserv of the Florida Philosophical Association led to zero (0) returns. The only thinkers reflecting on climate are at the University of South Florida and at the University of Central Florida. So it appears that the other formerly good schools -- University of Miami, Florida State University, and University of Florida -- are not viewing climate change as a topic deserving of conceptual inquiry yet. Well, let them.

In my department, there are four (!) dissertations in the works related to climate philosophy -- one on the metaphysical underpinnings of our environmental and climatic crisis and how to respond through Heidegger and Daoism; another on how the perspectives of Spinozism and Deep Ecology elucidate the challenges of climate change; a third on Latin American climate philosophy, and a fourth one on organisms, environments, and climate change in light of Leopold and Lovelock.

Climate ethics is now a worldwide endeavor. Conferences and workshops 2010 happened in Potsdam, Liverpool, Uppsala, and La Laguna; 2011 meetings are planned at Florianopolis and Prato. In East Asia, to my knowledge, research on climate ethics is done by friends and colleages at Beijing's Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, at Taiwan's National Central University, at Taipei's Academica Sinica, at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, and at the National University of Singapore.

With the survey of 2010 research it's official: Climate Ethics is a stout new branch -- not a fragile twig -- of philosophical inquiry. Climate Philosophy proper, however, is another matter and hasn't yet left the starting line, for good reason, and here is why (p.22).

Seventy-months left.

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