Nature, Liberty and Dystopia

On the Moral Significance of Nature for Human Freedom

By Piers H.G. Stephens

© 2008 – Routledge

224 pages

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Hardback: 9780415385060
pub: 2017-02-15
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About the Book

This new fascinating study is grounded in the history of modern political ideas to illuminate how nature may be regarded as a touchstone of liberty in political thought.

Piers Stephens skilfully argues that the genre of utopias and dystopias is the key modern example of popular literary forms in which major human hopes and fears about technological society are inscribed. Arising as the genre does alongside the idea of progress and the origins of modern science, this book examines the ways in which freedom and nature are portrayed in the four most influential dystopian novels of the 20th century: Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s 1984 and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

Stephens also explores the ways in which vitally significant and often overlooked connections exist between the concept and experience of nature on the one side and the conditions, exercise and practices of human freedom on the other. In doing so, he makes an invaluable contribution both to the history of ideas and to contemporary environmental political theory.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Green Political Theory and the Dystopian Frame

Chapter 2: Blueprint for Technological Dystopia: Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We

Chapter 3: Aldous Huxley on Nature and Liberty

Chapter 4: Freedom, Nature and Power in Orwell’s 1984

Chapter 5: Consumerism, Kerosene and Culture: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

Chapter 6: Cyborgs, Biotechnology and the Future of Dystopia

About the Author

Piers H.G. Stephens lectures in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool as well as holding an honorary research fellowship at the School of Politics, International Relations and the Environment (SPIRE) at the University of Keele. He is features editor (Books, Film, Music and Other Media Reviews) and Futuristic and Utopian Studies co-editor of the international journal Organization and Environment, has co-edited two books, Perspectives on the Environment 2 (1995) and Environmental Futures (1999), and contributed articles and reviews to various journals, including Environmental Politics and Environmental Values.

About the Series

Environmental Politics

Over recent years environmental politics has moved from a peripheral interest to a central concern within the discipline of politics. This series aims to reinforce this trend through the publication of books that investigate the nature of contemporary environmental politics and show the centrality of environmental politics to the study of politics per se. The series understands politics in a broad sense and books will focus on mainstream issues such as the policy process and new social movements as well as emerging areas such as cultural politics and political economy. Books in the series will analyse contemporary political practices with regards to the environment and/or explore possible future directions for the ‘greening’ of contemporary politics. The series will be of interest not only to academics and students working in the environmental field, but will also demand to be read within the broader discipline.

The series consists of two strands:

Environmental Politics addresses the needs of students and teachers, and the titles are published in paperback and hardback.

Routledge Research in Environmental Politics presents innovative new research intended for high-level specialist readership. These titles are published in hardback only.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy