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Earth: should we love it or leave it?

Two public events hosted by Concordia’s Department of Philosophy examine how we view our planet and its future inhabitants
October 29, 2015
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By Elisabeth Faure

“We need to be thinking about future generations, not just in terms of cost-benefit analysis, but in terms of a moral responsibility toward people who don’t exist yet.” | Photo courtesy of NASA “We need to be thinking about future generations, not just in terms of cost-benefit analysis, but in terms of a moral responsibility toward people who don’t exist yet.” | Photo courtesy of NASA

What are the big issues facing our planet? This is the central question behind the Canadian Society of Continental Philosophy’s 2015 conference, hosted by Concordia’s Department of Philosophy from October 29 to 31.  

“Philosophers are good at articulating the kinds of questions and puzzles everyone is aware of on some fundamental level, and bringing the underlying issues to the surface,” says department chair and professor David Morris.  

The conference features two public events. On October 29 at 5 p.m. Vanderbilt University philosophy professor Kelly Oliver will deliver a keynote address, "Earth: Love It or Leave It."  She will examine the way we think about our home and environmental issues, specifically reflecting on how the first picture of our planet from space changed the discourse.

“Oliver will be talking about how this very simple thing — this image of the earth from space, from a distance — has given us a sort of mirror image that lets us look back on ourselves and our planet,” Morris says.

The second public event, “Future Life, Future Earth, Future People: Environment and Values,” is a panel discussion Morris is chairing on October 30 at 4:45 p.m. Topics covered will range from global warming skepticism to the ways images of apocalypse and bio-disaster affect our views of climate change.

Concordia philosophy professor Matthias Fritsch is part of the panel, and will be discussing the issue of intergenerational responsibility with regard to the environment.

“Future people are more ‘present’ than we may think,” says Fritsch. “Not only because of the fact generations overlap, but also because the time of the present cannot be thought of without relation to both an anticipated and essentially unknown future.”

Morris says philosophy is a useful tool to address concrete problems. “It contributes to an understanding of what we are doing in our politics now,” he says. “We need to be thinking about future generations, not just in terms of cost-benefit analysis, but in terms of a moral responsibility toward people who don’t exist yet.”

 

The “Earth: Love It or Leave It”  keynote address takes place on October 29 at 5 p.m.

The “Future Life, Future Earth, Future People: Environment and Values” panel discussion is on October 30 at 4:45 p.m.

Both public events will be held in Room H-767 of the Henry F. Hall Building on the Sir George Williams Campus. They are free and no registration is required.

 



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