Due to a teleological mindset materialized from capitalist modes of production in western societies, individuals have become trapped—to quote social theorist, Max Weber—“in an iron cage of rationality” that promotes the appropriation of nature with both a short-sighted mindset and understanding of the environmental repercussions. It is this state of mind in which individuals continue to purloin resources from the environment without intention of replenishing, consequently engaging in and promoting the decline of the environmental state of the world. This independent study is designed to address the aggressive and unsustainable appropriation of nature by individuals within western societies, with the aim of coming to some sort of conclusion as to what ought to be taken as an appropriate, justified, and ethical guideline for how individuals (in western societies) ought interact with nature. Through social theory, I address how the capitalist nature of western societies has shaped individuals’ behaviors to reflect a teleological mindset of efficiency through destructive methods of appropriation. Using ethical theory, I then excogitate alternative methods of more “environmental friendly” behavior derived from land ethic and deep ecology.


Clayton, Susan

Second Advisor

Kammer, Charles




Environmental Studies | Philosophy | Sociology


Environment, Ethics, Social Theory, Capitalism, Society, Western Culture, Appropriation, Nature

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2018 Kimberly Wooster