In chapter one I discuss the advent of the Anthropocene and argue that the term Capitalocene is more apt to denote the current epoch as it is more historically accurate and contains normative content. I then articulate and respond to two objections: (1) that the benefits of capitalism outweigh the loss of wilderness preservation and (2) that wilderness does not currently exist and thus cannot be preserved. These objections have led many to argue that the future of the planet rests in further human manipulation of earth systems and that appeals to preserving wild nature are a thing of the past. However, such a view fails to acknowledge the particular social conditions that are inherent to the capitalist system and how they contribute to the current environmental crisis, making appeals to wilderness preservation mistakenly appear nonsensical.
In chapter two I argue that typical conceptions of what is valuable under the Capitalocene are far too narrow. Given this, the eight principles of the deep ecology platform represent a promising foundation from which to recognize the value of wilderness spaces. To defend the intrinsic value of wilderness spaces, I entertain a variety of accounts of natural value, namely from Holmes Rolston III and J. Baird Callicott. I conclude that Rolston’s ecological-relational account of value, when read with neosentimentalism in mind, is the most promising account of intrinsic natural value.
And finally, in the third chapter, I propose Henry Bugbee’s philosophy as an exemplar of the ideal disposition towards wilderness and the nonhuman world. Bugbee’s work is best understood as a way of being that is more immediate and nonalienated with respect to the natural world. Bugbee’s work asserts that wilderness represents humanity’s true philosophical home and is worthy of reverence.
Burkey, Brandon, "Wilderness Preservation in the Capitalocene: Valuing Wild Lands in an Instrumental World" (2018). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 7987.
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis
© Copyright 2018 Brandon Burkey