Ethics, Values, Philosophy, and Science: Expanding the Role for Ethnobiology in Environmental Justice

Date and Time: 
Friday, 6 May, 2011 - 17:40 to 18:00
WOLVERTON, Steve - University of North Texas

Ethnobiologists produce many kinds of data about human interactions with environments, ranging from archaeological studies of deep time to ethnographic field studies that challenge the meaning of the terms “human” and “environment.” Science, a sense-making-system common in Western societies, provides a powerful analytical tool for comprehending such data, but it is well known that scientists may or may not communicate their findings in manners that influence socio-political values about conservation, sustainability, environmental justice and other important concepts related to environmental ethics. Ethnobiologists work in settings that entail temporal, spatial, and/or cultural scale shifts, providing what philosopher Albert Borgmann terms a disclosive perspective that reveals profound aspects of ecological, biological, geological, and anthropological knowledge. As a result, Ethnobiology provides a wide umbrella for and a bridge between multiple disciplines ranging from those that analyze cultural materials to those that require cultural participation, to those that argue for changes in value systems.