Andrew Light: Pragmatism and Climate ChangeOctober 11, 2009 11:41PM
It's great to see Andrew Light gaining prominence as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. This video is from a 2007 talk, when he was with the University of Washington Center for Ethics.
From a 2003 interview by David Brown in Higher Education Exchange:
I’ve become more and more convinced environmental ethics needed a push away from traditional philosophical debates and toward environmental issues. ... I wanted to create a form of pragmatism on environmental questions that allowed environmental ethicists to make a contribution to the field in such a way that their work would be more relevant to questions of public policy or activism. …
My kind of pragmatist approach to environmental ethics is directed not so much at trying to describe what the value of nature is that we have direct moral obligations to, but that ethicists should try to use their talents to translate the agreed-upon ends of the environmental community into language that the broader public will find most morally motivating to them. …
I no longer believe we can only achieve goals like environmental sustainability through a complete rejection of capitalism, globalization, or other such phenomena. I don’t think we need to reject liberalism in order to achieve a more respectful attitude toward nature. And a culture of nature [that] is not a democratic culture is not something I would want to be a part of. I realize all these propositions require arguments that I am not providing here, but in short, my attitude toward a lot of these topics has changed because the longer I stay in the academy the more frustrated I am by our fashionable positioning of ourselves as outside the mainstream.
We are no longer courting irrelevance by taking such positions. We have become irrelevant. It is up to us to fight our way back into public life and hopefully make a difference in the time we are allotted.