Earth Matters: The Earth Sciences, Philosophy, and the Claims of Community

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9780130119964: Earth Matters: The Earth Sciences, Philosophy, and the Claims of Community

For courses in Earth Science, Physical Geology, Physical Geography, Earth System Science and Environmental Philosophy. This collection of essays by scholars in both the earth sciences and philosophy discusses the connections between the earth sciences and contemporary culture, and the changing role of the earth sciences in society.

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From the Back Cover:

As we enter the 21st century, the Earth sciences are becoming the central disciplines that define the natural limits of resources and ecosystems. A true understanding of this shift requires a combination of philosophic reflection and scientific information and perspectives. Despite this, little has been written about the changing roles of the Earth sciences in society, nor on what philosophy can contribute toward the goal of living more gently on the planet. In this volume, Robert Frodeman has collected the thoughts of some of the most forward-looking scholars from the Earth sciences, philosophy, and public policy on this topic.

About the Author:

Victor R. Baker is Regents Professor and Head of the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona. He was also the 1998 President of the Geological Society of America. Baker has authored over 200 scientific research papers and several books concerned with paleohydrology, geomorphology, planetary geology, the history and philosophy of Earth science, and the role of the Earth sciences in public policy.

Kristin Shrader-Frechette is De Crane Chair, Professor of Philosophy, and Concurrent Professor of Biology at the University of Notre Dame. Since the 1970s she has seen the problem of risk, as it arises with the development and utilization of modern technologies (especially nuclear technologies) as a central but largely neglected issue for philosophy. In several books-including Risk and Rationality: Philosophical Foundations for Populist Reforms (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), and Burying Uncertainty: Risk and the Case Against Geological Disposal of Nuclear Waste (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2993) - she has systematically sought to remedy this oversight.

Bruce V. Foltz is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Senior Honors Program at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg Florida. He also teaches in the Environmental Studies program at Eckerd, and has been a visiting faculty member at St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Born and raised in Kansas, where his family had a farm on the Ninnescah River, Foltz received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Penn State University. He is author of Inhabiting the Earth: Heidegger, Environmental Ethics, and the Metaphysics of Nature (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1995), as well as a number of articles on environmental philosophy. Foltz is also president, and co-founder, of the International Association for Environmental Philosophy.

Richard S. Williams, Jr., is a senior research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Woods Hole, MA. He holds a BS and MS in geology from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in geology from Penn State University. He has worked for the Atlantic Richfield Company, Raytheon, and HRB-Singer, and is also Vice Chairman of the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration. One of his many research areas is the relationship between volcanic activity and glacial fluctuations in Iceland.

Christine Turner is a senior research scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Denver, Colorado. During her two decades of service for the USGS Turner has held several management positions, and has also chaired a national committee on the future of the USGS. She is best known for her reinterpretation of the formation of a class of uranium deposits, in which she overturned previous models. Her current research focuses on two topics: the reconstruction of Mesozoic era landscapes in the American West in order to describe the ecosystem inhabited by Jurassic dinosaurs, and the development of ways to better integrate the sciences and the humanities for the resolution of community land use and resource controversies.

Brian Polkinghorn earned an MS from George Mason University's Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and an MA and Ph.D. from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, where he specialized in environmental conflict resolution. Polkinghorn has also been a National Environmental Management Program Fellow with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he analyzed the use of alternative dispute-resolution processes in regulatory and enforcement matters. Polkinghorn teaches in the Department of Dispute Resolution, Nova Southeastern University. His recent work includes assisting in the restoration of damaged coral reefs, resolving industrial siting disputes in Israel and the West Bank, and mediating disputes concerning utility reconstruction in Mostar and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Daniel Sarewitz is senior research scholar at Columbia University's Center for Science, Policy, and Outcomes, and author of Frontiers of Illusion: Science, Technology, and the Politics of Progress (Temple University Press, 1996). He received his Ph.D. in the Geological Sciences from Cornell University in 1985. At the same time, Sarewitz reports that he noticed a widening chasm between the technical knowledge that he was acquiring, and his personal experience in the surrounding world. In 1989 Sarewitz left science to work for the U.S. Congress - an institution that he describes as being in many ways the antithesis of academe. Congress made clear to him what science had sought to obfuscate or even deny: that reality operates on many levels simultaneously, that these multitudinous realities are often conflicting and incommensurable, and that there is no possible long-term equilibrium state in which such tensions are resolvable. For four years, Sarewitz worked for Congressman George E. Brown, Jr., Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Albert Borgmann has been professor of philosophy at the University of Montana for more than 30 years. Stimulated by his persistent attempt to live and think in a land of high mountains and big sky, there has emerged what may be called a small Borgmann school in contemporary thought. Borgmann's work includes Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life: A Philosophical Inquiry (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), and most recently Holding On to Reality: The Nature of Information at the Turn of the Millennium (Chicago. University of Chicago Press, 1999). The idea with which Borgmann is most often associated is the distinction between what he calls "things and devices. "An archetypal thing, for Borgmann, is a wood heating stove, the function of which is clearly transparent and which easily becomes a center for human life. By contrast, the thermostatically controlled central heating system is a device that hides its inner workings and never stands out as significant in human interactions-unless, of course, it breaks down. In the world of things, humans orient themselves by realities other than themselves; in the world of devices, it is human wants and interests that come to the forefront as orienting principles, producing the consumer society.

Max Oelschlaeger is the Frances B. McAllister Endowed Chair in Community, Culture, and Environment at Northern Arizona University (NAU). His work at NAU focuses upon his creation of a Public Humanities Program that seeks to restore a place for the humanities within community life. His recent books include the Pulitzer Prize-nominated The Idea of Wilderness (Yale University Press, 1991) and Postmodern Environmental Ethics (State University of New York Press, 1995).

Robert Frodeman teaches environmental philosophy and public policy at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. Possessing degrees in history, philosophy, and the Earth sciences, his work focuses upon the places where philosophic abstractions and everyday life intersect. He is currently completing a book on the philosophy of the Earth sciences, and is director of the Southwest Earth Studies Program, a National Science Foundation funded educational experiment in philosophy and the Earth sciences held each summer in the mountains of southwest Colorado.

W. Scott McLean is a lecturer in two programs at the University of California, Davis (UCD) Comparative Literature and Nature and Culture. He began his college career in fisheries biology, but changed to German languages and literature with a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. For the past decade he has been central to the development of UCD's Nature and Culture program. A published poet, McLean was editor of Gary Snyder's collection of interviews and talks, The Real Work (New Directions, 1989).

Eldridge M. Moores is Professor of Geology at the University of California, Davis. His interests include ophiolites, the development of mountains, environmental geology, and Earth history. His field experience includes all seven continents. He teaches primarily in the Geology Department but has team-taught the beginning course in the Nature and Culture program with McLean and/or David Robertson. Moores is author or co-author of more than 100 scientific publications, including two textbooks, and was the 1996 President of the Geological Society of America.

David A. Robertson is Professor of English at the University of California, Davis. He teaches in the Program in Nature and Culture and in the Graduate Group in Ecology. He is a photographer and the author of Real Matter (University of Utah Press, 1997). His main interest in research and teaching is promoting conversations between scientists and people in the humanities.

Carl Mitcham. A member of the faculty at the Colorado School of Mines, Carl Mitcham's scholarly research has been in the philosophy of science and technology as well as in the interdisciplinary field of science, technology, and society studies. His fundamental concern has been the attempt to understand, from what he calls a historico-philosophical perspective, the structures of the contemporary technoscientific lifeworld. Among his most representative publications are Philosophy and Technology: Readings in the Philosophical Problems of Technology, co-edited with Robert Mackey (Free Press, 1972; paperback 1983), and Thinking Through Technology: The Path Between Engineering and Philosophy (University of Chicago Press, 1994). His current work focuses on the ethics of science and technology.

Karim Benammar brings a multicultural perspective to his work: Born in Algeria, raised in The Netherlands, he studied philosophy at the University of Sussex, England, Pennsylvania State University (Ph.D., 199...

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