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Environmental Values

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Environmental Values

Environmental Philosophy and the Public Interest: A Pragmatic Reconciliation

Ben A. Minteer

Environmental Values 14(2005): 37-60. doi: 10.3197/0963271053306104

Most environmental philosophers have had little use for 'conventional' philosophical and political thought. This is unfortunate, because these traditions can greatly contribute to environmental ethics and policy discussions. One mainstream concept of potential value for environmental philosophy is the notion of the public interest. Yet even though the public interest is widely acknowledged to be a powerful ethical standard in public affairs and public policy, there has been little agreement on its descriptive meaning. A particularly intriguing account of the concept in the literature, however, may be found in the work of the American pragmatist John Dewey. Dewey argued that the public interest was to be continuously constructed through the process of free, cooperative inquiry into the shared good of the democratic community. This Deweyan model of the public interest has much to offer environmental philosophers who are interested in making connections between normative arguments and environmental policy discourse, and it holds great promise for enhancing environmental philosophy's role and impact in public life.

KEYWORDS: Environmental philosophy, public interest, pragmatism, John Dewey

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

The Pragmatic Power and Promise of Theoretical Environmental Ethics: Forging a New Discourse J. Baird Callicott

Pragmatism, Adaptive Management, and Sustainability. Bryan G. Norton

Democracy and Environmental Decision-Making. Klaus Peter Rippe and Peter Schaber

Saving Nature, Feeding People, and the Foundations of Ethics. Holmes Rolston, III

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Listening to the Birds: A Pragmatic Proposal for Forestry. Nicole Klenk

Environmental Policy With Integrity: A Lesson from the Discursive Dilemma. Kenneth Shockley

Contestations Over Biodiversity Protection: Considering Peircean Semiosis. Juha Hiedanpää and Daniel W. Bromley

The Building of a Dam: Value Conflicts in Public Decision-Making. Ana Costa, José Castro Caldas, Ricardo Coelho, Maria de Fátima Ferreiro and Vasco onçalves

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