Toward Environmental Wholeness

Method in Environmental Ethics and Science

By Patrick H. Byrne

Subjects: Environmental Studies, Environmental Philosophy, Ethics, Science
Series: SUNY series in Environmental Philosophy and Ethics
Hardcover : 9781438496986, 341 pages, March 2024
Paperback : 9781438496979, 341 pages, September 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-09-02

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Table of contents


Introduction Environmental Ethics as Historical

Part I: Environmental Ethics

1. From Scientific Facts to Ethical Values

2. Environmental Ethics in the Utilitarian Mode

3. Conversion to the Value of Life as a Whole

4. The Science of Ecology and Conversion to Environment as a Whole

5. Deep Ecology and Ecofeminism

6. Environmental Justice, Environmental Racism, and a Pragmatist Compromise

7. Toward the Wholeness of the Emerging Good

8. The Dialectic of Environmental Ethics

Part II: The Ethics of Climate Change

9. The Rise of Uniformitarianism

10. The Anomaly of Ice Ages

11. Joseph Fourier and the Science of Heat Dynamics

12. The Growth of the Science of Atmospheric Warming

13. The Rise of Computer Modeling

14. Going Public: Ethical Response to Climate Science

15. The Dialectic of Politics and Climate Change Science

16. Probability, Uncertainty, and Predictability in Science

17. Scientific Consensus, Trust, and Belief

18. Laudato si' and Integral Ecology

19. The United Nations Strategic Goals for Sustainable Development


Appendix: A Method for Environmental Ethics

Offers a unified vision for approaching human ethical responses to what science is telling us about the crises facing our environment and climate.


Toward Environmental Wholeness proposes a new understanding of environmental wholeness that is needed to address the ethical challenges posed by environmental and climate crises. Relying on the studies of numerous historians, Patrick H. Byrne traces the complex developments in environmental and climate change sciences and how they have posed complex ethical challenges. Drawing upon the thought of Bernard Lonergan, he shows how seemingly contradictory contributions from diverse ethical traditions can be brought together into a framework for responding to what the developing sciences are telling us about our current situation and evaluating our realistic options. Byrne reveals how the limitations of a utilitarian approach to environmental ethics had to be expanded into more holistic approaches and the difficulties those approaches encountered—especially the Romantic notions of a pristine, unchanging nature to be preserved and humans as alien. Environmental and climate change sciences have revealed the complex, dynamic natural and human systems that now call for a more dynamic vision of the whole as the basis for environmental ethics. The book also examines how the initiatives of Pope Francis' Laudato si' and the United Nations' Strategic Development Goals are responding to these challenges.

Patrick H. Byrne is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Boston College. He is the author of Analysis and Science in Aristotle, also published by SUNY Press.


"Toward Environmental Wholeness makes a unique and distinctive contribution, bridging two areas generally treated in isolation: history/philosophy of science and history/philosophy of environmental ethics. At the same time, Byrne's writing style is wonderfully clear and accessible, understandable to even a general audience despite the complexity of the ideas being presented." — James R. Skillen, author of This Land is My Land: Rebellion in the West