American Environmentalism: Values, Tactics, Priorities

By Joseph M. Petulla | Go to book overview

6
Varieties of Environmental Argument

BECAUSE of the cross-currents of traditions, purposes, and values in the environmental movement, it is not surprising that the movement should contain arguments, dogma, insights, and perhaps even outrageous conclusions. Any large social movement will have dozens of possible interpretations. This is even more true of environmentalism, the interests of which are derived from many diverse assumptions. It is enough to note first of all that each tradition holds strong values which tend to influence the definition of environmental problems which they present to the outside world in a manner similar to the way the values of social class affect the perception of social problems. Second, these assumptions and values often work against the very objectives and concerns of the groups which hold them, both because they tend to circumscribe the understanding of environmental issues and because they polarize groups around ideologies instead of rational discussion.

Moreover, a few environmental dogmas have dominated the ecological discussion in recent years. They call for closer examination; they may be termed dogmas because of their adherents' almost blind obedience to certain principles and reliance on certain shibboleths (that is, passwords or pet phrases distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys).1 Closed societies--groups that separate themselves

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1
Ancient Israelites were able to capture spies who infiltrated their camps because the spies could not pronounce the word shibboleth the way the Israelites did.

-97-

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American Environmentalism: Values, Tactics, Priorities
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • PART I - PROBLEM AND BACKGROUND 1
  • 1 - Environmental Values 3
  • 2 - Traditions of Conservation 24
  • PART II 41
  • 3 43
  • 4 - Enemies of Disruption 60
  • 5 - Environmental Economists 75
  • PART III - CRITICAL ISSUES 95
  • 6 - Varieties of Environmental Argument 97
  • 7 - Growth and Decay 119
  • 8 - Risk and Conservation 141
  • PART IV - EMERGING PRIORITIES 175
  • 9 - The Public Good 177
  • 10 - Environmental Ethics 204
  • Epilogue Sincerity and Authenticity 232
  • Index 235
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