Nature's Edge

Boundary Explorations in Ecological Theory and Practice

Edited by Charles S. Brown & Ted Toadvine

Subjects: Ecology
Series: SUNY series in Environmental Philosophy and Ethics
Paperback : 9780791471227, 248 pages, July 2007
Hardcover : 9780791471210, 248 pages, July 2007

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

An Introduction to the Problem of Boundaries in Ecological Theory and Practice
Charles S. Brown
Part I: The Human/Nature Divide and the Nature of Boundaries
1. Boundaries and Darwin: Bridging the Great Divide
Max Oelschlaeger
2. Lamarck Redux: Temporal Scale as the Key to the Boundary Between the Human and Natural Worlds
J. Baird Callicott
3. The Ethical Boundaries of Animal Biotechnology: Descartes, Spinoza, and Darwin
Strachan Donnelley
4. Cutting Nature at the Seams: Beyond Species Boundaries in a World of Diversity
Jon Jensen
5. Respect for Experience as a Way into the Problem of Moral Boundaries
Charles S. Brown
6. Boundarylessness: Introducing a Systems Heuristic for Conceptualizing Complexity
Beth Dempster
Part II: Community, Values, and Sustainability
7. Boundaries on the Edge
Irene J. Klaver
8. Remapping Land Use: Remote Sensing, Institutional Approaches, and Landscape Boundaries
Firooza Pavri
9. Boundaries, Communities, and Politics
Anna L. Peterson
10. The Moral Economy and Politics of Water in the Arid American West
T. Clay Arnold
11. The Need for a Taxonomy of Boundaries
Wes Jackson and Jerry Glover
12. How to do Things with Food: A Plea for Multiple Ontologies
Bruce Hirsch
13. Culture and Cultivation: Prolegomena to a Philosophy of Agriculture
Ted Toadvine
Notes on Contributors

Leading environmental thinkers investigate the complexities of boundary formation and negotiation at the heart of environmental problems.


Nature's Edge brings together leading environmental thinkers from the natural sciences, geography, political science, religion, and philosophy to explore the complex facets of boundary formation and negotiation at the heart of our environmental problems. The contributors provide a fresh look at how our lives depend on the lines drawn and ask how those lines must be reinscribed, blurred, or even erased to prepare for a sustainable future.

Resolving environmental problems calls for the negotiation of multiple, intersecting boundaries—natural, social, political, geographical, and ethical. From the differentiation of species to the formation of communities and moral values, environmental theorists are constantly confronted with a palimpsest of thresholds and mappings: Can nature and culture be divided? Are natural divisions discovered or created? How do political borders and moral economies shape community-building and social transformation?

Charles S. Brown is Professor of Philosophy at Emporia State University. Ted Toadvine is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon. Brown and Toadvine are the coeditors of Eco-Phenomenology: Back to the Earth Itself, also published by SUNY Press.


"A total of thirteen chapters, written by scholars and practitioners with vastly varying backgrounds, prefaced by a comprehensive and compelling introduction by Brown, the text as a whole amounts to a broad and deep meditation on borderlines in nature, society, and thought itself." — Environmental Ethics

"The writing … offers relevant insight into the complications involved in either including or separating humans from Nature … successfully bridges the gap between disciplines while addressing contemporary concerns." — The Kelvingrove Review

"The ideas focused on in this book have received attention at the edges of many fields, but little sustained, multidisciplinary treatment as a field of its own. Because of the variety of disciplines represented here, you may be attracted to one topic, but find yourself delighted to remain for the rest." — W. S. K. Cameron, coeditor of Environmental Philosophy