CPT-50306 Environmental Philosophy and Ecological Restoration


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Independent study
Course coordinator(s)dr. B Bovenkerk
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. HGJ Gremmen
dr. B Bovenkerk
Examiner(s)prof. dr. HGJ Gremmen

Language of instruction:



The academic field of environmental philosophy grew in response to the 'environmental crisis' that became visible in the late sixties of the previous century. Environmental philosophy includes all the branches of philosophical investigation: ethics, aesthetics, epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of science, and social and political philosophy. The new discipline profoundly questions the anthropocentric outlook of our moral and metaphysical thinking and argues for a non-anthropocentric worldview.
In the first part of this course, we will present a systematic overview of the main cognitive, normative and expressive issues within the field of environmental philosophy. First, we will focus on the special relation of environmental philosophy with the science of ecology, which is evident from such labels as 'deep ecology', 'social ecology' and 'eco-feminism'. Next, we will consider the proposal for an extension of the moral community to animals (zoocentrism), to all living beings (biocentrism), and to complete habitats and ecosystems (ecocentrism). Finally, we will discuss the conviction that there is a fundamental difference between the aesthetics of nature and the wild and the aesthetics of art and human artifice.
In the second part of this course, we will zoom in on two protracted and heated debates within environmental philosophy. The first debate is about the value of ecological restoration (which includes 'nature development'). It started in 1982 with a paper - Faking Nature - by Australian philosopher Robert Elliot. The second debate is about the moral status of native and exotic plant and animal species within ecological restoration projects (e.g. the Oostvaardersplassen).

Learning outcomes:

At the end of this course, students are expected to be able to:
- give a systematic overview of the key topics of environmental philosophy;
- demonstrate detailed understanding of the ecological, ethical and aesthetical perspectives within environmental philosophy;
- assess and evaluate the arguments within current debates about ecological restoration projects, especially with respects to the status of invasive vs. native species.


- lectures;
- guest lectures;
- individual paper (coached);
- discussions;
- doing ethical experiments.


Individual essay (100%).


Will be announced before or at the first meeting.