American Environmentalism : Philosophy, History, and Public Policy book cover
1st Edition

American Environmentalism
Philosophy, History, and Public Policy

ISBN 9781466559707
Published June 20, 2013 by Routledge
432 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $170.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Protecting the natural environment and promoting sustainability have become important objectives, but achieving such goals presents myriad challenges for even the most committed environmentalist. American Environmentalism: Philosophy, History, and Public Policy examines whether competing interests can be reconciled while developing consistent, coherent, effective public policy to regulate uses and protection of the natural environment without destroying the national economy. It then reviews a range of possible solutions.

The book delves into key normative concepts that undergird American perspectives on nature by providing an overview of philosophical concepts found in the western intellectual tradition, the presuppositions inherent in neoclassical economics, and anthropocentric (human-centered) and biocentric (earth-centered) positions on sustainability. It traces the evolution of attitudes about nature from the time of the Ancient Greeks through Europeans in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the American Founders, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and up to the present. Building on this foundation, the author examines the political landscape as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry leaders, and government officials struggle to balance industrial development with environmental concerns.

Outrageous claims, silly misrepresentations, bogus arguments, absurd contentions, and overblown prophesies of impending calamities are bandied about by many parties on all sides of the debate—industry spokespeople, elected representatives, unelected regulators, concerned citizens, and environmental NGOs alike. In lieu of descending into this morass, the author circumvents the silliness to explore the crucial issues through a more focused, disciplined approach. Rather than engage in acrimonious debate over minutiae, as so often occurs in the context of "green" claims, he recasts the issue in a way that provides a cohesive look at all sides. This effort may be quixotic, but how else to cut the Gordian knot?

Table of Contents

Philosophical Ideas and Concepts
Concepts of Nature in the Western Intellectual Tradition
Natural Rights and Natural Law
Kantianism as an Alternative to Utilitarianism
Ethical Egoism and Social Darwinism
Environmental Justice
Conclusion: Where Do We Go from Here?

Neoclassical Economics
The Rise of Neoclassical Economics
Economics, Public Policy, and the Freedom-Authority Divide
Efficiency versus Equity: An Unbridgeable Gulf?

Environmental Ethics: An Overview
Anthropocentrism, Neoclassical Economics, and the Scientific Method
Weak Sustainability
Strong Sustainability
Ecological Sustainability
Normative Sustainability
Intrinsic Value Theory and Its Discontents
The Ethical Dilemma in a Nutshell

Pre-American Attitudes about the Natural Environment
The Ancient Greeks
The Biblical Tradition
Europeans in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
Native Americans
Conclusion: The March of Anthropocentric Progress

The Enlightenment and the American Founders
The Enlightenment Project
John Locke, the Social Contract, and Private Property
American Enlightenment Figures
Humanity and Classification
The Enlightenment: Friend or Foe of Environmentalism?

The Nineteenth Century
Lewis and Clark and the Advent of Manifest Destiny
John James Audubon—The Ornithologist as Environmental Steward
Henry David Thoreau on Government and Society
The Gilded Age and American Urbanization

The Twentieth Century
Progressivism and Twentieth-Century Social Movements
John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Preservation-Conservation Debate
From Progressivism to the New Deal: The Evolving Role of Government in Natural-Resource Protection
Environmental Activism Comes of Age
The Rise of the Modern American Environmental Movement

Environmental Interest Groups
The Interest-Group Theory of Democracy

Well-Known Environmental Groups in the American Landscape
The Strengths and Weaknesses of the NGO Model

The Foundations of Twenty-First-Century Sustainability
Famous International Conferences and Agreements
American Environmental Law in a Federal System
Management Systems, Standards Organizations, and Certifications
Environmentalism for Dummies

Conclusion: The Path Forward
Common Pitfalls
The Quest for Energy and Its Environmental Consequences
Who Pays and Who Plays
Tradeoffs and Choices: Life Cycle Management (LCM)


View More



J. Michael Martinez began his career in the private practice of law. He later earned a Ph.D. in political science and a second Ph.D. in public administration. Martinez’s scholarly work has appeared in numerous academic publications, including Administration & Society; The American Review of Public Administration; The Georgia Historical Quarterly; The Journal of Environment & Development; The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy; The Journal of Policy History; Nonprofit Management & Leadership; Politics & Policy; and The South Dakota Law Review, among others. He also has co-edited and contributed chapters to three academic texts: Ethics and Character: The Pursuit of Democratic Virtues (Carolina Academic Press, 1998); Confederate Symbols in the Contemporary South (University Press of Florida, 2000); and The Leviathan’s Choice: Capital Punishment in the Twenty-first Century (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002). He has written three books on Southern history: Life and Death in Civil War Prisons (Rutledge Hill Press, 2004), a selection of the History Book Club; Carpetbaggers, Cavalry, and the Ku Klux Klan: Exposing the Invisible Empire During Reconstruction ( Rowman & Littlefield, 2007); and Coming for to Carry Me Home: Race in America from Abolitionism to Jim Crow (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012). His other books include Administrative Ethics in the Twenty-first Century (with William D. Richardson; Peter Lang Publishers, 2008), Public Administration Ethics for the Twenty-first Century (Praeger, 2009), and Terrorist Attacks on American Soil: From the Civil War Era to the Present (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012).

Since 1992, Martinez has worked in the Government Affairs & Environment Department at Dart Container Corporation, a leading manufacturer of disposable foodservice products. During the 1990s, he taught political science at Georgia State University and environmental law at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. He now teaches political science, criminal justice, and public administration courses as a part-time faculty member at Kennesaw State University, the University of South Dakota, and the University of Georgia, respectively. From 1988 until 1992, he was on the staff of the Southern States Energy Board, a non-profit interstate compact organization that researches energy and environmental laws and regulations


"American Environmentalism thoughtfully explores the many balances and policies that have guided environmentalists throughout our country’s history. J. Michael Martinez tells us that ‘tradeoffs’ and ‘accommodations’ are not dirty words; they permit new solutions to new problems as America continues to trace progress."
—Matthew M. McKenna, President and Chief Executive Officer, Keep America Beautiful, Inc.

"This sweeping introduction to American environmentalism presents its salient historical and philosophical features in an insightful overview that displays its continuity over centuries."
—Mark Sagoff, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, George Mason University, and author of The Economy of the Earth: Philosophy, Law, and the Environment, Second Edition

"American Environmentalism is a fascinating review of the history of the environmental movement. Martinez’s inspired use of intellectual tools like critical thinking, systems analysis, and the scientific method set this book apart and make it a must read for legislators, the media, and others who are seriously interested in understanding and solving our biggest environmental dilemmas."
—Robert Lilienfeld, editor of The ULS Report and co-author (with William L. Rathje) of Use Less Stuff: Environmental Solutions for Who We Really Are

"Martinez clearly grasps the impact of American environmentalism that is changing our world. As we all encounter the many aspects of the environmental movement impacting our businesses, make sure you access his keen thinking and analysis."
—William R. Carteaux, President and Chief Executive Officer, SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association