How to be a Green Liberal

How to be a Green Liberal: Nature, Value and Liberal Philosophy

Simon Hailwood
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 206
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  • Book Info
    How to be a Green Liberal
    Book Description:

    It is often claimed by eco-philosophers and green political theorists that liberalism, the dominant tradition of western political philosophy, is too focused on the interests of human individuals to give due weight to the environment for its own sake. Touching on various themes in environmental ethics, value theory and political philosophy, including deep ecology, eco-feminism and eco-anarchism, this book argues, against prevailing wisdom, that liberalism can embrace a non-anthropocentric, non-instrumental view of nature. Indeed, Hailwood argues that conceptual resources exist within liberal pluralism - the ideas of "neutrality", "anti-expressivism" and "otherness" - for a thoroughly ecocentric perspective. Engaging with the works of Wissenburg, Carter, Bookchin, Rawls, and many others, Hailwood develops in this book a recognizably liberal pluralist theory that encompasses a strong commitment to the non-instrumental value of independent nature. The book begins by outlying the charge of anthropocentrism against liberalism. The author then discusses historical versions of natural/political order parallels and Mill's objection to "natural lessons". The core chapters then examine nature's otherness as a ground of value, the criticisms of holistic/deep ecological views, and the pluralist critique of liberalism and the common ground between them. The final chapter summarizes the theoretical position and discusses some of the practical implications.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8226-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    If or when man-made environmental calamities bite more deeply it is likely that so will the tendency to blame liberalism as the dominant tradition of Western political philosophy. Therefore it is politically and culturally important, as well as philosophically interesting, to identify and emphasize any green resources latent within that tradition. In this book I shall argue for a green form of liberal political philosophy, and seek to show how a green perspective can and should be developed within liberal political theory .

    An important preliminary question is this: what should we take “green” to mean in this context? First...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Nature’s otherness
    (pp. 18-56)

    What is the otherness view of nature’s value that I have been referring to? Before going on to make the political connections I have in mind, it will be necessary to discuss the main elements of the otherness view. That is what follows in this chapter. I will clarify the otherness view partly by distinguishing it from some apparently similar views, as well as some that are more definitely different. I will also discuss some of the difficulties involved in keeping nature’s otherness clearly in focus. Towards the end of the chapter I discuss what seems to be the most...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Against blueprinting
    (pp. 57-88)

    In his recent bookThe Environmental Crisis,Mark Rowlands makes a telling criticism of Bookchin’s social ecology, an influential version of ecoanarchism.¹ The main defining claim of social ecology is that the domination of nature derives from the domination of human beings by human beings. Social domination must end for there to be an end to the domination of nature by human beings.² On the face of it, Bookchin’s ecoanarchism simply aims at ending the social domination characterizing “hierarchical” society, both for its own sake, and as the necessary means to saving nature from domination by human beings. It looks...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Liberal landscape
    (pp. 89-129)

    The question is: how can the political culture of a liberal landscape be more than instrumentally respectful of external nature? If it is purely instrumentalist, committed to the sole value assumption, or at least to normative individualism,¹ how could it ensure reasonable landscaping, including respect for nature as other? Must it not see external nature only as a resource? For a brief introductory sketch of how this can be answered, consider the following anti-liberal line of thought. Liberals tend not toreallybelieve in very much, at least nothing very substantial, which is why they can satisfy themselves with thinking...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Some objections
    (pp. 130-156)

    Having tried to show why the otherness view of nature and the liberal view of politics should go together, I will finish in this final chapter by considering some objections to this way of being a “green liberal”. No doubt there are many objections that could be made to my arguments in this book. I will consider three specimen objections: one each from the domains of value theory, ethics and political theory, respectively.

    First, consider an objection from the domain of value theory. The position I have argued for, and the otherness view of nature’s value that it involves, presuppose...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 157-188)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 189-194)
  11. Index
    (pp. 195-197)