Between Ecology and Environmentalism | Francesco Viola - avesisland.info
"The dispassionate observer of the present ecology movement cannot help but be struck by the . The major features of the two major environmental ideologies professional Observing the intricate symbolic relationship between animals and. Bridging the ideological divides over ecology and environment Wiker's In Defense of Nature: The Catholic Unity of Environmental, Economic. Are environmental ideology and ethics, which marked the actions of conservationists in the past, We argue that the relationship with nature itself has changed.
This confusion of the meaning of ecology between such extreme views is so profound in the vernacular that Mark Westoby has asked what options there are for ecological scientists who feel that the very word ecology has lost all scientific meaning.
Ecology and policy Ecology and policy are largely the domains of different individuals and institutions Figure 2. As depicted here, the ecology and policy subsystems have common contexts, including aspects of the environment, culture, and values, but otherwise are independently bounded and differ from each other in focus, methods, and objectives. The ecology subsystem functions largely on a research agenda, while the policy subsystem sets priorities and goals and frequently must resolve conflict Attfield and Dell One common feature that has traditionally been characteristic of both domains is the high degree of importance the practitioners have attached to objectivity.
By objectivity, most would imply that the accepted methodologies of ecology and policy are based on depersonalized interactions between the observer and the objects of observation, that is, interactions that are free from the effects of individual preferences and feelings and from the cultural context and its associated biases DouglasThompson et al.
An objectivist model An objectivist model of the interaction between ecology and policy would acknowledge the necessity of a causal linkage between contextual values and policy Figure 3 but not between contextual values and the ecology subsystem directly. While policymakers might attempt to separate the factual claims to truth from the values used to determine what is right, that is, attempt to sever the linkage to contextual values, the exercise is a schizophrenic and futile approach to policy Kartez Thus, policymakers are generally expected to weigh the values of society as a whole in the decisionmaking process Dietz and Stern From the perspective of ecologists, this objectivist model can be justified by an internalist frame of reference.
From that frame, it is argued that the practice of ecology can be autonomous and isolated from external influences note the location of the eyeglasses in Figure 3. The figure clearly marks the boundary between internal and external. The resulting frames of reference also reflect a division in social and historical studies of science: Internalists focus on the autonomous growth of science, whereas externalists emphasize the cultural and value contexts of that growth Graham In actuality, however, the very nature of the research approaches and methods that are used to investigate an ecological or technical problem are value based Shrader-Frechette and McCoyas are the criteria that are used to judge the quality of the results Costanza These so-called constitutive values arise from, among other things, the deeply personal nature of the choices about what is to be studied, the criteria to be applied, and the methods to be used, and they are the source of the rules governing what is acceptable in the practice of science or policy in general Longino The same normative considerations in determining the boundaries of acceptable practice influence both the subsystems of science and policy Tribe Constitutive values, then, are associated in general with the conceptual locations of the boundaries of the subsystems of ecology and policy and how they relate to their context.
There are, therefore, two kinds of values that must be considered, those associated with the cultural context that is common to both subsystems and those associated with the subsystems themselves Figure 4. Neither the ecology nor the policy subsystem is bounded by means that are independent of the individuals making the observations: No theory can be accounted for in value-free terms Polanyi All observers who are fully functioning have feelings.
Descartes' duality, based on the separation of emotions from the process of knowing, is an illusion Damasio Cogito ergosum has to be amended by what is now known of the neurobiological foundations of the self. Without feelings, rational decisionmaking behavior is impossible Damasio Alternatives to the objectivist model If the objectivist model fails because of the inescapable involvement of human observers, how can scientific institutions be judged according to their fidelity to the search for truth—some degree of concordance with the notion of objectivity?
In reality, the constitutive values of science are not maintained by individuals but by a community of scholars.
Given that science is a collective endeavor, the characteristics of the institutional arrangements that order the interactions among the members of a scientific group can be used to judge the extent to which the group is involved in unbiased scholarship Figure 5. The significant role of publication and the peer review process in operationalizing these criteria is apparent. In large part, the criteria depend upon provisions for open communication between members of the group, who continuously reflect on the evidence for the knowledge claims being made e.
The stakes for doing the work that is necessary to maintain the boundaries are high because the credibility and authority of the positions generated from within the domains thus bounded depend upon it Gieryn Given that the boundaries of subsystems are based on a socially constructed set of constitutive values Longinoany number of alternative subsystem boundaries and patterns of interaction among subsystems and their contexts are possible.
The alternatives—impacts model The alternatives—impacts model is one of the most common operational models, and it has been widely accepted within the community of applied ecologists Figure 6. The key features of this model include 1 the general belief that the influence of contextual values on the ecology subsystem can be kept to a minimum by taking all possible steps to guard against cultural bias for an alternative view challenging this belief, see JasanoffHarding and 2 the isolation of the ecological subsystem from the decision itself by limiting the responsibility of the ecologist to determining and reporting the impacts of alternatives generated by the policy subsystem.
Uncoupling the assessment of impacts from the final decision in this way is characteristic of the model that has evolved for implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act and is an approach that has been taken in many ecological assessments e.
Other versions of the model Many alternative versions of the model are conceivable, with the boundaries of either subsystem expanding to encompass the other. One extreme version is the ecology-subordinated model Figure 7. In this version, research objectives and methods are themselves selected to conform with policy goals.
From the perspective of most scientists, this model imposes unacceptable constraints on the independence of scientific institutions Wagner In practice, the boundaries between the subsystems are rigorously negotiated and maintained Jasanoff Particularly in cases of high uncertainty, the policy subsystem can act to frame the presentation of the findings and hypotheses of science in ways that would seem to be consistent with several alternative models Jasanoff In these settings, the language of science plays a pivotal role by establishing the understanding and sense-making necessary for the evaluation of scientific input Weber and Word In the final analysis, the boundary considerations that produce any number of alternative models are subject to influence by a continuous set of dynamic factors Figure 8.
Thus, not only is there no set scheme by which science and policy come together Harrisbut the dynamic nature of the system and its components ensures that the nexus of ecology and policy will continue to be determined on a case-by-case basis National Research Councilnot by theory Shrader-Frechette and McCoyand that every particular interaction must be viewed as a hypothesis and a learning opportunity for all Carpenter and Gunderson Vivantary responsibility Given the important role of values, both contextual and constitutive, in the relationships between ecology and policy, has the emergence of ecology on the national stage brought any unique ethical principle into play?
This is a question not simply of the interactions among ecology, values, and policy but also of ecological values and policy.
How does ecological science inform our values and our actions on issues of policy concerning the environment? The most basic operation we perform as observers of the universe is to make distinctions Maturana In making what is certainly among the most fundamental of such distinctions, our self-awareness and our perception of self-in-relation-to-environment are inextricably linked.
In the words of R. Buckminster FullerEnvironment to each must be All that is, excepting me. On one side, in the context of distribution and exploitation of resources one must bear in mind not only the rights of human beings but also the respect due to nature, which thus becomes a criterion of justice. On the other side, injustices and social inequalities can be considered, in addition to their effects on other species, also as ecological damage inflicted by human beings on other human beings.
Justice towards humanity is connected with justice towards nature, down to the point of producing cosmopolitical visions in the strict sense of the term.
Hence political ecology arises, which overcomes the original distinction between ecologism and environmentalism, because in politics human responsibility is in the forefront but at the same time its object is now extended to the whole order of the world. The most burning themes of political ecology and the manifold national and international organizations, official and unofficial, that promote it are — as everyone now knows — those of ozone depletion, global warming, acid rain, air pollution, water shortage and the decline in its quality, disruptions caused by global climate change, desertification, loss of topsoil, nuclear waste disposal, depletion of global fisheries, impoverishment of biodiversity, the growth of the global population, and environmentally related illnesses.
But to these we have to add the social injustices of capitalism and those caused by ecological policies themselves consisting above all in making the poorest and weakest pay its costs and the externalities. Political ecology Political ecology as a programme of public action inevitably intercepts political ideologies and is diversified according to the main ideological currents Clark We have, however, to distinguish between long consolidated political conceptions, which now welcome the ecological issue as a new and important political and economic drive, from those that are constituted from scratch around the priority objective of the protection of nature and biodiversity, with consequent effects on the organization of social life.
If we wish to maintain the distinction between environmentalism and ecologism, we can ascribe to the former not only the conservative orientation and the liberal one, which are 10 distinguished by the way of treating the market for the purposes of the ecological crisis, that is to say either as free of restrictions or as necessarily regulated, but also deliberative democracy insofar as it also extends to the ecological issue the communicative rationality of the ethic of public discourse Dryzek Ideologies of the past that are today in decline find in the ecological crisis new lifeblood to renew themselves.
One example is eco-socialism, which in Marxist thought finds an effective criticism of the exploitation of nature, and another is eco-anarchism, which from the ecological crisis derives new arguments to contest the centralized political power and the dominion of technology. Something separate, seeing its importance, has to be said about ecofeminism, which rejects the sexist ethic of rights to the advantage of the ethic of care, thus acquiring a conceptual paradigm that, assimilating dominion over women to that over nature, closely links the liberation of the one to that of the other.
In conclusion, it can be affirmed that, while the punctum dolens of the relations between holistic and relational ecology is the philosophical one of the importance of natural essences or the identity of beings, the watershed in relational ecophilosophy is that of the distinction between conceptions that pursue an adjustment of the modern legal categories and the politics and those that instead deem it necessary to subject them to a profound upheaval, meaning that it is a political issue.
Since everyone agrees on the need for a cultural change in the use of goods, in the general lifestyle and in the consideration of nonhuman nature, we rightly wonder whether this is possible within the economy-driven and political categories to which the principal responsibility for the ecological crisis is attributed.
This question becomes even more dramatic where it is believed that this change has to be so radical as to require a drastic break with the selfish order of power, all-powerful consumerism and the hierarchy of the social classes to the advantage of authentic solidarity sustained by compassion and reciprocal help. Both solutions are not very convincing and are not really practicable.
The dominant paradigm in modernity, represented by the polarity between state and market, between sovereignty on one side and possessive individualism on the other, as well as being belied by increasing transnational interdependence on all fronts, cannot be corrected from inside and in the ecological field leads at the same time to authoritarianism, hostile to citizenship rights, and to monetarization of pollution rights.
If it is true that protection of the environment is the privileged locus of the principle of subsidiarity, in that environmental problems are perceived more fully by those people that are directly affected by them, it is also true that protection of the environment requires a strong authority having a major capacity for resistance and pressure that rarely characterizes local governments.
Accordingly, protection of the environment is either insufficient or authoritarian. On the other side, recourse to economics is motivated by the conviction that, instead of opposing the display of self-interest with legal and political constraints of various kinds, it is more efficient to use the same mechanism to reach objectives of common interest through heterogenesis of goals according to the well- known market logic.
But this justification has tragically proved counterproductive and contradictory. Indeed, the method of taxing those who pollute increases, instead of decreasing, the taxing power of the state, and above all, from the ethical point of view, subordinates legitimacy of actions to the costs for putting them in place, discriminating between the rich the and poor. Even taking to the extreme the liberalistic tendency of the economy, for which it would be necessary to create a market in which permissions to pollute would become an object of negotiation and transaction and in which powerful multinationals would be the contractual parts against weak local communities, the result would be that of monetizing rights.
In this connection, environmentalism calls rights into play, which are silent in ecologism, and it is sensitive to protection of cultural identities. But law and politics exist precisely because not everything is negotiable, and not 12 everything has a price Sandel Law exists precisely to protect citizens from being forced to sell their rights.
The palingenetic solution is clearly utopian. With this I do not mean that it is useless or ineffective, because utopias have an important function for the ethical progress of humanity. Nevertheless, history never starts from nothing, as totalitarianism maintains, but has to take into account the past and the present without indulging in determinisms and with awareness of the need for continual and profound corrections of legal and political categories.
There is thus prefigured a third way between maintenance of the modern paradigm and rejection of it: A new way for environmentalism: In this connection it is out of place to fear a return to the pre- modern epoch or even to the Middle Ages. We must not allow the ideological prejudices of modernity to prevent valorisation of cultural resources that belong to the great narrative of humanity.
On one side the past is never repeated in an identical form, while on the other demonizing it derives from a stupid religion of progress. When we find ourselves at a deadlock, at times it is necessary to return to the interrupted pathways of the past to open up new roads.
On Care for Our Common Home. This is an ambiguous situation that does not by itself guarantee respect either for rights or for nature. Everything depends on governance. Nevertheless, environmental protection has to take cognizance of this circulation of powers and their displacement if it wants to be effective. This implies awareness of the impossibility of a single plan of global action; it requires attention to specific situations of a cultural and environmental character and demands diversification of the modalities of action, but also the need for cooperation and consultation.
But it is not the institutional aspect that I intend to develop here, because it in turn implies the possibility of opening up new pathways for law and politics. That this is possible is shown, as an emblematic example, by the present- day problems of the commons, on which I will dwell in the conclusion only for illustrative purposes. At first sight present-day reflection on commons appears as a maze of visions that inextricably interweave. The general trend is to underline a set of goods that escape the traditional dichotomy between public and private, because their destination would prove to be thwarted by application to them of the regime of private ownership or that of public law.
Their inevitable or possible decline would produce double damage: As we know, the pioneering and illuminating researches of Elinor Ostromon the basis of examination of concrete cases, have shown how and on what conditions it is possible to trace out new institutions that allow common management of these goods in a fruitful way.
It must not be forgotten that one of the traditional justifications of private ownership appeals precisely to the demands of conservation and valorisation of goods. Ironically, it is assumed that self-interest is beneficial for respect for nature and its protection.
But private ownership leads to exclusion of others not only from enjoyment but also from protection of these goods, also frustrating their rights as citizens. The drift of private ownership introduced by possessive individualism has made it necessary on the historical 14 plane to look for other solutions for the governance of particularly important goods.
The same must be said, mutatis mutandis, for state management of goods. But, if we distinguish, as we should, between public and state, then common goods are very close to non-state public goods. Between state and market there is the non-state public sphere and civil society. In any case it is necessary to reject the rigid dichotomy between public and private. Many institutions that govern commons are a rich mixture of private-like and public-like Ostrom, In short, the governance of these common goods has an eminently pragmatic character.
It is necessary to see case by case what regime is most suitable for enjoyment of particularly important external goods, whether material or immaterial, so that they are protected and at the same time remain accessible to everybody.
It is important to stress that in these cases there is not opposition but superimposition and convergence between accessibility and conservation of the good, between human rights and protection of nature.
Certainly these common goods are difficult to classify definitively. In them we find, one next to the other, heterogeneous categories of goods: What do these commons have in common? The usual answer arouses some major perplexities. It is believed that while private goods are excludable and are rivalrous and public goods are non-excludable and are non-rival, common goods are non- excludable and are rivalrous.
This is not the case, for instance, of cultural goods and those linked to knowledge as the web: But in this way the notion of rivalry would end up being confused with that of non-excludability or of accessibility, which is a normative and not a factual principle, as instead the condition of rivalry is.
The only sensible answer to the question of what is common to goods that are so heterogeneous from so many points of view, from that of extension down to global commons to that of enjoyment, is the one that underlines the inadequacy of submitting them to the regime of the market or of the state.
A new legal paradigm is required to maintain the character of commonalty on the plane of their 15 management too. And then, on the basis of the territorial or historical circumstances, the sphere of common goods can be broadened or restricted every time that it is necessary to verify or otherwise a close connection between the advantage that every person derives from use of them and the advantage that others also derive from it, as well as between the duties and the burdens that each person takes on themselves by using them and the duties and the burdens that others also take on themselves.
In the commons the benefits and the burdens of all the participants are shared and not opposed as for private goods or to be set aside as for public goods Zamagni, Commons as a source of rights At the origin of our legal civilization there is a very strong conviction that goods on earth do not in themselves specifically belong to anyone, but are available to be used by everybody.
The principle of the common destination of goods originates from Stoic philosophy and — as is well known — was incorporated in the thought of the Fathers of the Church. It was still very much present in the thought of Locke and today is still defended by the social doctrine of the Catholic Church Mellon Originally all goods on earth are common, that is to say are res omnium or res communes omnium, as Cicero thought.
The problem of the subjective right arises precisely to justify the passage from this original state of commonalty to subdivision of ownerships through the property right, which is therefore concentrated in the right of exclusion of others from enjoyment and use of the good.
Hence it had to be conceived in such a way as not to eliminate entirely the original destination of goods, but on the contrary to favour it. This was the attempt pursued by Francisco de Vitoria, who can be considered as the historical precursor of the theory of commons. We are not talking about examples belonging to the past if we just think about the immigration tragedy in our own day. There are rights and duties that man derives from his relations with the goods of nature.
These goods are seen as the source of these rights and these duties rather than as being merely useful or functional to the exercise of pre-existing rights deriving from subjectivity, as instead people are inclined to consider them today cf. Certainly there are rights because there are people, but their content and their exercise depend on the existence of certain goods in relation to which there is also the duty of care and respect for commonalty.
There are liberties that are justified and modelled by the goods to which they refer and by the modalities of their use. Such is the group of rights that Vitoria considers relational goods: On the contrary, the modality of existence of these goods produces non-individualistic fundamental rights, that is to say ones governed by the principle of solidarity. Hence the commonalty we are speaking of here should be seen as a triangular relationship between people and goods and of people with one another.
Vitoria intends to trace out an intermediary way between the constraint of things on people and the dominion of people over things, between the subordination of the person to an arrangement of things that is presumed to be natural and the person freeing himself or herself from every bond with nature, leading to the loss of the reference point of human intersubjectivity itself. Nevertheless Vitoria has stressed that using goods is not a purely factual thing or in itself devoid of a legal dimension.
There are some rights that derive from the use of things rather than from the prerogatives of subjectivity or from its dominative voracity. Environmental new institutionalism The return of the problem of commons constitutes an opportunity to go back to these attempts at separation of ownership as exclusion from ownership as common use.
This revision is extremely urgent, because the tragedy of commons, whatever anyone says about it, can now be considered a de facto datum. However, it does not only consist in the environmental disaster, in the depletion of goods that are vital for human beings and also in unfair distribution of resources, but also in the anthropological drift produced by the solipsistic way of seeing human action and liberty itself.
Elinor Ostrom has shown that on certain conditions this tragedy is avoidable, that is to say on condition that we place responsible and cooperative use at the centre of social action, as opposed to anthropocentric dominion. According to Ostrom the traditional ownership sums up in itself five different types of rights: The holders of the first four types of rights are strictly consumers and managers, while it is only with the addition of the fifth right that strictly speaking they become owners Ostrom It is worth noticing that agency is fully realized in exercise of the first four types of rights and in itself does not also require the fifth one.
The latter, that is to say the individual right of alienation and exclusion, makes the relationship with the good purely contingent and entrusts it to the individual will. The cooperative process in the management of commons starts from a situation of interdependence, that is a de facto datum dictated by things, that is to say linked to use of the same natural or artificial resources, which make it very expensive though not impossible to exclude potential beneficiaries from use of them.
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However, we must here 18 specify that these costs could also concern problems of justice, that is to say have an ethical-political character. This self-government can also be very complex, with distinction of roles providers and producerswith various types of rules, which determine who is to take decisions in the different sectors, what actions are permitted or imposed, what procedures must be followed, what information is necessary, what rewards must be assigned and what sanctions inflicted Ostrom There will also have to be second-level rules that establish how the first-level ones can be changed.
All this has to belong to common knowledge shared among all the participants, prefiguring a real form of rule of law. This means that the language of rights and that of rule of law are necessary for the governance of nature and for distributive justice, on condition, however, that they are worked out in the light of the principle of solidarity in its maximum extension, that is to say also regarding the ecosystem. In this way jurisprudence can avoid becoming responsible for the decline of nature through a profound change of legal paradigms, leading to a new ecological order in human law Capra and Mattei Lastly, it is interesting to notice that this self-organization of interdependence is aimed at allowing free and independent action by the beneficiaries, which consists in use of the available resource units.
In this connection, liberty lies in use and not in exclusion of others, that is to say in ownership. The beneficiaries appropriate the resource unit and consume it or at any rate use it, but they do not appropriate the system of resources. This means that, at least in these cases, the autonomy and liberty of the subjects considered singly does not precede, but follows, the autonomy of common action and the community arising from the situation of interdependence and supported by the intention to cooperate and by mutual trust.
Social bonds are not a constraint on liberty but are the condition making it possible and the guarantee of its equal distribution: This interdependence has a particular character, in that from the use of these goods duties and responsibilities arise towards other people and natural resources themselves.
It is proper to the dignity of the person to attain independence through self-government of situations of interdependence, but an external authority cannot effect this without an intrinsic contradiction. It must only favour it and make it legally possible. The responsibility of the protection of nature falls first of all on those who have direct relations with it, those who use the goods of the earth, those who take an active part in the life of the ecosystem, those who depend on its conservation, and those who enjoy its benefits and its beauty.
It is necessary to recognise every person to have the right to intervene in the decisions that concern his or her environment. The researches of Eliane Ostrom address, rather, productive natural goods and economic resources meadows, forests, fisheries, groundwater basinswhich are most at risk of extinction. Nevertheless, their results, with the appropriate adjustments, are also fully applicable to protection of nature without productive aims.
The management of the commons has a highly flexible character and has to take into account the nature of the good and the characteristics of the relationship that the human being has with it. We have also said that common goods are a category that is neither homogeneous nor well determined. Their confines are mobile, in continual expansion and sensitive to the circumstances of interdependence, which in turn vary on the basis of different factors, among them signally that of scientific and technological development.
The aim here was only to point out a significant example of integral relational ecology that is effectively practicable and thus to show a third way between utopian ecologism and anthropocentric environmentalism. Statalism is a by-product of anthropocentrism. Persona y Derecho 68, 1: The Philosophical Impact of Contemporary Physics. Science, Society, and The Rising Culture. End of Millennium, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, vol.
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