Finland, Helsinki

Environmental Ethics in a Global Context

when 4 August 2015 - 20 August 2015
duration 3 weeks
credits 5 ECTS
fee EUR 640

This course is an introduction to environmental ethics as a philosophical discipline helpful to analysing environmental case studies. It aims to raise awareness about the fundamental and ethical role of the natural environment in human life. The theoretical part of the course introduces ethical theories and concepts, while a more practical section presents real case studies and ethical notions from different viewpoints.

Why is ethics important in the modern world and why should ethics be part of policy-making processes? In an attempt to answer such questions, this course will discuss ethical concepts – such as intrinsic and instrumental value, anthropocentrism and ecocentrism, and concern for future generations – together with different types of Environmental Ethics theories – such as Deep Ecology, Ecofeminism, Land Ethics, Utilitarianism, Gaia Theory and Animal Rights. The applicability of different ethical theories will be tested in light of selected case studies about natural disasters and environmental accidents, including the catastrophic failure at the Fukushima nuclear power plant on 11 March 2011 in Japan; hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking”; the unfair polluting policy of TEXACO (now Chevron) in the Ecuadorian Amazon and many others.

Tools and concepts which do not primarily belong to the ethical field such as the Free Rider, the Tragedy of the Commons, homo economicus and the Comedy of the Commons will be presented as helpful instruments for ethical deliberations.

Course leader

Ms. Corinna Casi

Target group

This course is designed for students who are interested in environmental and ethical issues. It is recommended for undergraduate students of philosophy, social sciences, sociology, environmental studies, politics and economics. Previous studies in Philosophy and/or Ethics may be helpful but are not required.

Course aim

This course attempts to give students the analytical apparatus to critically analyse the role played by the natural environment in the life of humans and other living species. The course familiarises the students with basic concepts and theories of Environmental Ethics, fostering an understanding on how human factors weigh and carry responsibility for environmental problems. The students will be trained to see different perspectives, to apply moral theories and draw ethical conclusions from real-life cases in recent news. This enables the students to confront their views in class debates, to better understand themselves and colleagues, and to improve their skills of discussion, argumentation, group work and presentation.

Fee info

EUR 640: This course fee applies to degree and PhD students who pay the fee before June 1, 2015.