1st Edition

Liberty and the Ecological Crisis Freedom on a Finite Planet

Edited By Christopher J. Orr, Kaitlin Kish, Bruce Jennings Copyright 2020
    290 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    290 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the concept of liberty in relation to civilization’s ability to live within ecological limits.

    Freedom, in all its renditions – choice, thought, action – has become inextricably linked to our understanding of what it means to be modern citizens. And yet, it is our relatively unbounded freedom that has resulted in so much ecological devastation. Liberty has piggy-backed on transformations in human–nature relationships that characterize the Anthropocene: increasing extraction of resources, industrialization, technological development, ecological destruction, and mass production linked to global consumerism. This volume provides a deeply critical examination of the concept of liberty as it relates to environmental politics and ethics in the long view. Contributions explore this entanglement of freedom and the ecological crisis, as well as investigate alternative modernities and more ecologically benign ways of living on Earth. The overarching framework for this collection is that liberty and agency need to be rethought before these strongly held ideals of our age are forced out. On a finite planet, our choices will become limited if we hope to survive the climatic transitions set in motion by uncontrolled consumption of resources and energy over the past 150 years. This volume suggests concrete political and philosophical approaches and governance strategies for learning how to flourish in new ways within the ecological constraints of the planet.

    Mapping out new ways forward for long-term ecological well-being, this book is essential reading for students and scholars of ecology, environmental ethics, politics, and sociology, and for the wider audience interested in the human–Earth relationship and global sustainability.

    1. Introduction

    Bruce Jennings, Kaitlin Kish, and Christopher J. Orr

    Part I Navigating Wicked Dilemmas of Liberty and Agency in the Anthropocene

    2. Liberty in the near Anthropocene: State, Market, and Livelihood

    Stephen Quilley

    3. Nations and Nationalism in the Anthropocene

    Steven J. Mock

    4. Reclaiming Freedom Through Prefigurative Politics

    Kaitlin Kish

    Part II Seeds of Freedom and Nature in Modern Traditions

    5. Are Freedom and Interdependency Compatible? Lessons from Classical Liberal and Contemporary Feminist Theory

    Amy R. McCready

    6. Limits and Liberty in the Anthropocene

    Peter F. Cannavò

    7. The Virtue Ethics Alternative to Freedom for a Mutually Beneficial Human-Earth Relationship

    Anna Beresford

    8. Who Stands for Uŋčí Makhá: The Liberal Nation-State, Racism, Freedom, and Nature

    Jeffery L. Nicholas

    9. Nature, Liberty, and Ontology: Why Nature Experience Still Exists and Matters in the Anthropocene

    Piers H.G. Stephens

    Part III Resisting the Undertow of Modernity

    10. Liberation from excess – a post-growth economy case for freedom in the Anthropocene

    Rafael Ziegler

    11. Cognitively Unstable Rational Agents: A New Challenge for Economics in the Anthropocene?

    Morgan Tait

    12. The Civilicene and its Alternatives: Anthropology and its Longue Durée

    Joshua Sterlin

    13. Defending and Driving the Climate Movement by Redefining Freedom

    Aaron Karp

    Part IV From Navigating the Anthropocene to Being in the Ecozoic

    14. A Beginners Guide to Avoiding Bad Policy Mistakes in the Anthropocene

    Martin Hensher

    15. Liberty, energy and complexity in the Longue Durée

    Stephen Quilley

    16. Forest on Trial: Towards a Relational Theory of Legal Agency for Transitions into the Ecozoic

    Iván Darío Vargas Roncancio

    17. From the Ecological Crisis of the Anthropocene to Harmony in the Ecozoic

    Christopher J. Orr and Peter G. Brown



    Christopher J. Orr is a PhD candidate as part of the Economics for the Anthropocene project in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences at McGill University, Canada.

    Kaitlin Kish is a Postdoctoral Fellow for the Economics for the Anthropocene project at McGill University and lecturer at the University of British Columbia's Haida Gwaii Institute, Canada.

    Bruce Jennings is Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He is Senior Fellow at the Center for Humans and Nature in Chicago, and Senior Advisor and Fellow at The Hastings Center in New York.