From the Social to the Natural Contract. PHIL 1003 2008-09. Condition of nature today. There is disagreement about the extent of the problem, BUT the planet seems to be in trouble: Global warming: extreme weather, rising sea level, invasive species;
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pace of human-induced environmental change is rapid;
too rapid for gradual adjustments to occur?
Komodo dragon, Komodo Park, IndonesiaCO2 concentrations threaten coral reefs; rising sea levels threaten sea turtle nesting beaches and mangrove forests.
We should examine nature
“under constraint and vexed…forced out of her natural state” to achieve the “relief of man’s estate…” (Great Instauration and Advancement of Learning, 1627).
‘Man’s estate’ = Brutal and hard, full of toil, disease and death;
Use nature to improve our material conditions.
- utopian state
- Scientists in charge
- uses bio-engineering
- other technologies
- achieves material prosperity
Nature at the command of man.
We should “make ourselves masters and possessors of nature…to enable us to enjoy without pain the fruits of the earth and all the goods one finds in it, but also principally for the maintenance of health, which unquestionably is the first good and the foundation of all the other goods of this life…” (Discourse on Method, pt. 6).
Private land is cultivated to its full extent;
Field in England produces more than vast “waste” in “America”;
Nature almost worthless (1% or less!);
Will nature be stewarded or over-used?
E.g. corn production—depleting and polluting!
“Tragedy of the Commons” (1968)
Commons = air, water, and soil
Trashed b/c we don’t care about them
B/c they aren’t “mine” or even “ours”!
Have to use coercion of social contract to enforce responsible use.Locke and Hardin
Or visited a country park?
Can you name one tree species on campus?
How to contract
when it tends to preserve
the integrity, stability
and beauty of the biotic community
tends otherwise (LE, 225).
"an evolutionary possibility
and an ecological necessity" (203)