How Much Is Enough? The Limits of Interdisciplinary Openness in Environmental Ethics

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Association for Interdisciplinary Studies


One of the most interdisciplinary and integrative branches of philosophy is environmental ethics. It is closely associated with the movement that has arguably been the most transformative public phenomenon in the past three decades, and during its brief history, it has experienced dramatic transformations of its own. Originally an interdisciplinary effort at the unlikely juncture of forestry and philosophy, it has grown into an applied branch of moral philosophy that is situated in the context of ecology, environmental economics, and public policy. I argue that environmental ethics is in need of another transformation: its long-term viability requires the consolidation of its basis-- that is, the justification of its core claims. The current conception of environmental ethics as an applied approach suffers from the absence of a coherent foundation. In the short run, the attention to this foundational, disciplinary labor would limit the interdisciplinary openness of environmental ethics; in the long run, however, these very limitations will ensure the worth of environmental ethics as an integrative approach that can fruitfully interact with other disciplines.




Schonfeld, Martin. "How much is enough? The limits of interdisciplinary openness in environmental ethics." Issues in Integrative Studies 16 (1998): 9-29.