Simon James Lecture

Natural Meanings and Cultural Values


Simon James - Natural Meanings and Cultural Values

Wednesday 14 March, 2018 – Wednesday 14 March, 2018
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Newton Park Campus, Commons, 226

In 1972, the Navajo activist Katherine Smith told Senate investigators that she would never quit her home on Big Mountain. I will "never leave the land, this sacred place", she said. "The land is part of me and I will one day be part of the land… All that has meaning is here."

It is standard practice to conceive of nature’s value in terms of the "ecosystem services" it provides. However, Smith's statement presents a new concept of the land, as one central to identity.

In this talk, Simon will present a theory of environmental value that considers the environment not just a service-provider, but as a vital part of life. 

His own theoretical model will look to consider how nature's contributions to certain meaningful wholes will provide greater implications for environmental policy, as well as other fundamental issues in environmental ethics.  

About the speaker 

Simon James is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Durham University. He has a BSc in Biological Sciences, an MA in the History and Philosophy of Science, and a PhD in Environmental Ethics.

James has worked on a wide range of topics in environmental philosophy, from Buddhist approaches to wildlife conservation to our moral relations with rock formations, from the (so-called) problem of animal minds to the virtue ethical question of whether a good life must be a green life.

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