Glossary

*Comments following an asterisk (“*”) are further ideas that connect with particular material in this book

Anatta

Buddhist doctrine of the “non-self”; idea that there is no soul; “there is in humans no permanent, underlying substance that can be called the soul.” (Anatta BuddhismEncyclopædia Britannica (2013))

Animal welfare

  1. The health and well-being of an animal; an idea aimed at reducing animal suffering

*Peter Singer’s argument for the condemnation of speciesism and the support of equal consideration for animal interests is an animal welfare argument

Animal rights

  1. The idea that animals should have equal consideration as humans in terms of possession of their lives and legal interests
  2. Moral and legal entitlements bestowed upon non-human animals

*A stricter view on animal protection than animal welfare

Anthropocene

The era characterized by the impact of humans

Anthropocentrism

An ideology that places humans as the central focus of the universe

*This ideology is seen as problematic for environmental values, but exactly what is meant by “anthropocentrism” when environmental thinkers argue about it is not always clear; for instance, caring about other humans might follow from anthropocentrism

Atonement

Making reparations or amends

Atonement Christology

The study of reconciliation of humans with God through Christ’s death and sacrifice in Christian theology

Autonomy

A Kantian ethic “based on rational self-esteem and respect for the human capacity to direct one’s own life according to rational principles” (Wood, https://philpapers.org/rec/WOOAAT); self-governing; self-directing; the state or condition of self-governance, or leading one’s life according to reasons, values, or desires that are authentically one’s own (https://www.britannica.com/topic/autonomy)

* Existential self-dependence that directly contrasts Reinhold Niebuhr and David Loy’s anthropologies which call for a recognition of the interconnectedness of the universe (for Niebuhr, an interconnectedness through God); sought after in American society in accordance with the concept of extreme individualism

Biocentrism

An ideology that places all living things as the central focus of the universe (add here some comment about the preference for a biocentric (or ecocentric) environmental ethic that has typified much environmental thinking, and possibly a link to Bron Taylor’s recent statement about biocentric ethics)

*An ideology championed by the Earth First! movement which sees the interests of non-humans as prioritized above the interest of humans

Bodhisattva

The Sanskrit term for anyone who, motivated by great compassion, has generated bodhicitta, which is a spontaneous wish and a compassionate mind to attain buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings (The Bodhisattva Vow: A Practical Guide to Helping Others, page 1, Tharpa Publications (2nd. ed., 1995) ISBN 978-0-948006-50-0)

Consequentialism

An ideological branch theorizing that decisions are made based on the outcomes or consequences of that decision

*An ideology displayed by Peter Singer in his publication on animal welfare, Animal Liberation

Conservatism

An ideology bearing the disposition to preserve or restore what is established and traditional and to limit change (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/conservatism?s=t)

*Conservatism might connote a desire to preserve and restore established ecosystems and environments and would be highly resistive to climate change

Consumerism

The concept that an ever-expanding consumption of goods is advantageous to the economy (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/consumerism?s=t)

*Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff” video provides a probing commentary on consumerism, including the following quote from Victor Lebow: “Our enormously productive economy… demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption… we need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate” (“”Price Competition in 1955″, Victor Lebow”. 2008-07-28.)

Creation

In Christian theology, the Universe and all its inhabitants, particularly the Earth

*E.O. Wilson argues that using this term for the natural world acknowledges the beliefs of most humans that there is some divine source of all things, thus creating a bridge of respect to the views of most people, which can foster mutual respect

Deontology

The branch of ethics dealing with duty and moral obligation based on rules

*Includes Kantian ethics

Dogmatism

The expression of an opinion or belief as if it were a fact: positiveness in assertion of opinion especially when unwarranted or arrogant (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dogmatism)

Dukkha

In Buddhism, the suffering caused by attachments and desires

*As there is no self, dukkha affects us all – damage to the environment is damage to each living creature (David Loy comments at length on dukkha in chapter 5)

Eco-Kashrut

Also known as eco-kosher; a movement to extend the Kashrut system, or Jewish dietary laws, to address modern environmental, social, and ethical issues, and promote sustainability (Arthur O. Waskow, “Eco-Kashrut: Environmental Standards for What and How We Eat”, MyJewishLearning, Originally Published in the Jerusalem Report.)

Ecology

The study of interactions of natural systems

Emotivism

A way of understanding moral knowledge that asserts that: “Ethical statements do not make assertions at all, but instead express emotions or attitudes” (Wood, “Relativism,” Stanford University)

*Unlike relativism, emotivism is not threatened with self-refutation

Environment

“the aggregate of surrounding things, conditions, or influences; surroundings”; “Ecology: the air, water, minerals, organisms, and all other external factors surrounding and affecting a given organism at any time” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/environment)

Equality

The moral idea of equal consideration for the interests of all creatures with the capacity for experiences, namely suffering (according to Peter Singer)

Ethics

            The branch of philosophy dealing with defining right/wrong and goodness/badness

Normative ethics: “the study of ethical action” (normative ethics focuses on what we should do, how we should live, and the arguments related to views about that…) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normative_ethics); deciding the criteria for what is right and wrong; includes Aristotelian Virtue Ethics

Applied ethics: “the philosophical examination, from a moral standpoint, of particular issues in private and public life which are matters of moral judgment” (or just “applying ethical principles to particular situations or fields” (e.g., medical ethics, sexual ethics, etc) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applied_ethics); sorting out the right and wrong courses of action in everyday life

Meta-ethics:

The study of the nature of ethics and moral reasoning

Eudaimonia

Thriving, happiness and joy, derived from living a virtuous life, “the good life” (according to Aristotelian Virtue Ethics); having a good indwelling spirit

Fallibilism

“We might always be mistaken in what we believe” (Wood, “Relativism,” Stanford University)

Four Noble Truths

  1. Suffering Exists
  2. Suffering is caused by excessive attachments and desires
  3. Suffering ceases when attachments to desires cease
  4. Freedom from suffering is possible via the Noble Eightfold Path

Freedom

  1. “The state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint”; “exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/freedom)
  2. “’A function of the progressive attempt to see a particular object clearly’…to be free is to exist without fear, to perceive what is real” (Vision and Virtue, Hauerwas and Murdoch)
  3. “’Freedom is knowing and understanding and respecting things quite other than ourselves” (Vision and Virtue, Hauerwas and Murdoch)

Gardener’s Ethic (according to Michael Pollan)

Humans must tend to the earth and care for it as a gardener cares for a garden instead of taking a hands-off approach that leaves humans as the enemy to the environment; this ethic contrasts a “wilderness ethic” that sees humans as opposed to nature and mainly destructive of it

The Good

  1. According to Aristotle, “the good” is the correct or virtuous action to take in any given situation; “The Good” can also refer to the broader scope of virtuous living
  2. For Iris Murdoch, “The Good” is “transcendent reality” not necessarily ever exemplified in our world (Vision and Virtue, Hauerwas)

Grace

In Christianity, “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not necessarily because of anything we have done to earn it” (Our Wesleyan Theological Heritage)

Halal

Permissible; allowed; in Islamic context, fit to eat

*Often includes safe and humane practices in dealing with animals for food, although is not inherently environmentally friendly

Hedonism

The doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the highest good; devotion to pleasure as a way of life (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/hedonism?s=t)

Egoistic hedonism: actively seeking happiness and pleasure by fulfilling personal urges and indulgences

*A doctrine of irony as the only sure way to be certain one will never be happy is to directly seek it through egoistic hedonism (at least according to virtue theory…)

Humility

  1. “The quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/humility)
  2. “Not a phony attempt at constant self-effacement, but the selfless respect for reality” (Vision and Virtue)

Ideological taint

  1. Human’s inclination to reduce the truth to our truth
  2. The human’s temptation to deny the limited character of his knowledge and the finiteness of his perspectives (ala Reinhold Niebuhr); human’s inclination to assume acquisition of a degree of knowledge beyond the limit of finite life

Integral ecology

An “openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human” (Laudato Si’); incorporating not only biological and chemical scientific information in dealing with environmental issues, but also social sciences, arts, and spirituality; championed by Pope Francis, it is to consider both natural and human ecology in addressing environmental problems

Intellectus

“The power of direction intuition and was associated with the passive receptivity of the contemplative” (R. Baer, Our Need to Control)

*Often exemplified by the intellectual pursuits of the humanities and the arts more so than the sciences; perhaps linked with right brain functions

Kosher

In accordance with Jewish dietary law; fit for consumption

*Like Halal, includes many safe and humane practices in dealing with animals for food, although is not inherently environmentally friendly

Laws

In the scientific community, “a statement based on repeated experimental observations that describes some aspects of the universe” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_law); that which has never been disproven

Love

  1. “A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person”; (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/love)
  2. “The discovery of reality…any relationship through which we are called from our own self-involvement to appreciate the self-reality that transcends us” (Vision and Virtue)

Morals

“Of, relating to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/moral); one’s personal set of beliefs about right and wrong

Nature

  1. “The natural world as it exists without human beings or civilization”; “The material world, especially as surrounding humankind and existing independently of human activities” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/nature?s=t)
  2. “The universe, with all its phenomena” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/nature?s=t) including humans and their creations
  3. “That which gives birth” (Loren Wilkinson)

Naturalism

The worldview that takes account only of natural elements and forces, excluding the supernatural or spiritual; the belief that all phenomena are covered by laws of science and that all teleological explanations are therefore without value (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/naturalism)

Religious naturalism: the doctrine that all religious truth is derived from a study of natural processes and not from revelation

Nihilism

An extreme form of skepticism: the denial of all real existence or the possibility of an objective basis for truth; nothingness or non-existence

Ethical nihilism: “All ethical statements are false,” because there are no moral facts (Wood, “Relativism,” Stanford University)

Nirvana

Freedom from the endless cycle of personal reincarnations, with their consequent suffering, as a result of the extinction of individual passion, hatred, and delusion (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/nirvana?s=t)

Noble Eightfold Path

In Buddhism, the way for a person to achieve enlightenment including eight practices:

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right speech
  4. Right action
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

Objectivity

Not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased; intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book; being the object of perception or thought; belonging to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/objective)

*The goal of the scientific community in studies and experiments; in an attempt to be more honest and accurate about the practice of objectivity in science, Ian Barbour re-defines objectivity as “intersubjective testability with commitment to universality”

Papal encyclical

A “specific category of papal document, a kind of letter concerning Catholic doctrine, sent by the Pope and usually addressed especially to patriarchs, primates, archbishops and bishops who are in communion with the Holy See” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encyclical)

*Exemplified by Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home by Pope Francis

Planned obsolescence

According to the Story of Stuff, “designing and producing products in order for them to be used up (obsolete) within a specific time period. Products may be designed for obsolescence either through function, like a paper coffee cup or a machine with breakable parts, or through “desirability,” like a piece of clothing made for this year’s fashion and then replaced by something totally different next year. Planned obsolescence is also known as “design for the dump”; “a method of stimulating consumer demand by designing products that wear out or become outmoded after limited use” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/planned-obsolescence)

Perceived obsolescence

“The part of planned obsolescence that refers to “desirability”. In other words, an object may continue to be functional, but it is no longer perceived to be stylish or appropriate, so it is rendered obsolete by perception, rather than by function” (Story of Stuff)

Pride

  1. “A high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/pride?s=t)
  2. A sin of thinking of oneself as superior to another or idealizing oneself as divine

Power pride: the belief that an individual bears superiority over another due to their position(s) of power

Intellectual pride: the belief that an individual bears superiority over another due to his/her intelligences and knowledge

Moral pride: idealizing one’s beliefs and moral systems and considering them superior to others’ moral views

Spiritual/religious pride: idealizing one’s religious and spiritual beliefs and considering them superior and ultimately final, and favored by the divine

Rapidification

“The continued acceleration of changes affecting humanity and the planet, coupled with a more intensified pace of life and work” (Laudato Si’)

Ratio

“The power of discursive, logical thought, of searching and examination, of abstraction, or definition and drawing conclusions” (Pieper 1963 – found in Baer (Our Need to Control))

*Includes the sciences focused on objectivity, for example the physical, biological, and chemical sciences; perhaps linked to left brain functions

Relativism

“A belief that says only how things seem to someone, and how they seem to anyone is always how they are (to that person)” (Wood, “Relativism,” Stanford University)

*A self-refuting concept, as one could never truly assert relativism because that would make it an absolute, and in relativism, there are no absolutes

Ethical relativism: “There is no absolute truth about ethics, but only relative truth” (Wood, “Relativism,” Stanford University)

Cultural relativism: “Different cultures have different ethical standards and the standards by which the conduct of any individual should be measured are the mores of the community to which that individual belongs” (Wood, “Relativism,” Stanford University)

*Gives no grounds for making moral judgements against cultural norms such as slavery, rape culture, institutionalized domestic violence, etc.; Wood finds all of these forms of relativism problematic

Religion (functional definition)

Whatever serves to answer the “big questions” about life and the universe

*Includes ideologies not normally considered “religious,” such as Marxism, scientism, naturalism, atheism, etc.

Resources

“Something to be used” (Loren Wilkinson)

Science

“Knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study”; “systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/science?s=ts)

Self-deification

Seeing oneself as a god or as divine; considering oneself to have divine knowledge and judgement

Sensuality

Diving into material senses to deal with the anxiety of the human condition; inordinate devotion to limited goods

Sin

  1. “Transgression of divine law”; “any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/sin?s=t)
  2. Any manifestation of the seven deadly sins: pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed, and sloth
  3. A distancing of oneself from God; being out of relationship with God
  4. A way of life not in accordance with the God’s will

*Patriarch Bartholomew referred to a “crime against the natural world” as being a sin, and Pope Francis agreed with this view in Laudato Si’

Skepticism

“All beliefs are uncertain; no belief is justified” (Wood, “Relativism,” Stanford University)

Ethical skepticism: “No ethical belief is certain, all ethical beliefs are unjustified” (Wood, “Relativism,” Stanford University)

Speciesism

“A prejudice or attitude of bias in favor of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species” (Singer, Animal Liberation)

Stewardship

“Earthkeeping”; taking care of the planet and its environments; taking on a role of care as that of a steward of a master’s property

Subjectivism

“The doctrine that all knowledge is limited to experiences by the self, and that transcendent knowledge is impossible” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/subjectivism?s=t)

Technocratic paradigm

The way that our society, including our economic systems, views technology and uses it to dominate the natural world; a reductionist life perspective that denies the interconnectedness of all things

*This has led to a belief that technology will save humanity from the threats of climate change and environmental issues, but this is not realistic or practical

Tenet

Any opinion, principle, doctrine, dogma, etc., especially one held as true by members of a profession, group, or movement” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/tenet)

Theories

A coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/theory)

Unselfing

Taking pleasure in self-forgetful, moral and virtuous actions and experiences; releasing oneself from the idea of themselves as an individual (Vision and Virtue)

Utilitarianism

  1. “The doctrine that the morally correct course of action consists in the greatest good for the greatest number, that is, in maximizing the total benefit resulting, without regard to the distribution of benefits and burdens” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/utilitarianism?s=t); all things have the same worth, no being is worth more than another being
  2. A type of consequentialism created by Jeremy Bentham

*Utilized by Peter Singer in his publication, Animal Liberation

Values

That upon which we place weight and importance in our lives

Virtue

  1. “Moral excellence; goodness; righteousness” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/virtue?s=t)
  2. “The self’s correspondence to reality” (Vision and Virtue)

Virtue theory/Virtue Ethics

Aristotle’s moral philosophy, part of normative ethics, focused less on a specific moral system, but rather on character and virtue as it applies to everyday scenarios

*The virtuous person interacts with the world in a manner of care and stewardship, including passion for maintaining environmental health; a virtuous person may not be focused mainly on caring for creation, but is the kind of person who will choose to be a good steward of creation

Wilderness

“A natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilderness)

Wilderness Ethic (according to Michael Pollan)

The ethic of taking a hands-off approach to the environment by placing human culture as the enemy of nature and the natural world (contrasted with gardener ethic, defined above)

Zabihah

Islamic law concerning the slaughter of animals for food (http://www.isahalal.org/Content/Halal-Information/Halal-Education/-Halal-or-Zabihah.aspx)

*Goes hand-in-hand with Halal; meant to be humane and healthy; not inherently environmentally friendly, but includes many environmentally friendly aspects

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Religion and Environmental Values in America by Gregory E Hitzhusen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.