A World Not Made for Us

Topics in Critical Environmental Philosophy

By Keith R. Peterson

Subjects: Environmental Philosophy, Philosophy, Ecology
Series: SUNY series in Environmental Philosophy and Ethics
Paperback : 9781438479606, 236 pages, July 2021
Hardcover : 9781438479590, 236 pages, September 2020

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Table of contents


Introduction: Environmental Philosophy: Anthropocentrism, Intrinsic Value, and Worldview Clash

Part I: Anthropocentrism and Philosophical Anthropology

1. Anthropocentrism, Dualism, and Models of the Human

2. The Unfinished Animal

Part II: The Intrinsic Value of Nature

3. The Problem of Intrinsic Value and the Primacy of Priorities

4. Environmental Values and Vital Priorities

5. Political Ecology and Value Theory

Part III: Ecological Ontology

6. Metascientific Stances and Dependence

Conclusion: A World Not Made for Us

Works Cited

Proposes a nonanthropocentric reassessment of key themes and approaches in environmental philosophy


In A World Not Made for Us, Keith R. Peterson provides a broad reassessment of the field of environmental philosophy, taking a fresh and critical look at three classical problems of environmentalism: the intrinsic value of nature, the need for an ecological worldview, and a new conception of the place of humankind in nature. He makes the case that a genuinely critical environmental philosophy must adopt an ecological materialist conception of the human, a pluralistic value theory that emphasizes the need for value prioritization, and a stratified categorial ontology that affirms the basic principle of human asymmetrical dependence on more-than-human nature. Integrating environmental ethics with the latest work in political ecology, Peterson argues it is important to understand that the world is not made for us, and that coming to terms with this fact is a condition for survival in future human and more-than-human communities of liberation and solidarity.

Keith R. Peterson is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Colby College. His books include a translation of F. W. J. Schelling's First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature, also published by SUNY Press.


"…this is a very detailed, effective and impressive work of environmental philosophy that features wide ranging scholarship and connects anthropological, axiological, political and metascientific considerations together in a persuasive and well worked out way." — Environmental Values

"This is one of the most important contributions to contemporary environmental philosophy, especially in the areas of value theory and political ecology. Peterson undertakes crucial inquiry into the theoretical priorities that are the necessary basis for a consistent and coherent ethical theory. He launches a powerful critique of both abstract idealist and reductionist tendencies in recent environmental thought and presents incisive and groundbreaking analysis of key issues such as the nature of moral virtue and the role of the social ethos. This work will do much to deepen and enrich the theoretical discussion of basic concepts in environmental philosophy." — John P. Clark, author of Between Earth and Empire: From the Necrocene to the Beloved Community