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First read

· Paul Taylor “The Ethics of Respect for Nature.” If you wish, you may SKIP pages 104 and 112.

· David Suzuki, Chapter 6 “Protected by our Kin” (from The Sacred Balance). If you wish, you may SKIP pp 193-197. [If you did not purchase a hard copy, here’s an electronic version (Links to an external site.) through our library.]

Second read

· Jabr, “The Social Life of Trees”

Third read

· Jarvis, The Insect Apocalypse Is Here (Links to an external site.) (NYT, 2018) You may SKIP the section about the study in Krefeld (beginning “Krefeld sits a half-hour drive outside Düsseldorf, near the western bank of the Rhine….” and ending “That gives us today the possibility to go back in time.”

· Wilson, A Biologist’s Manifesto for Preserving Life on Earth

· Carrington, Earth’s sixth mass extinction event under way, scientists warn

Fourth read

· Assadourian, “The Rise and Fall of Consumer Culture”

· Soper, “Alternative Hedonism”: Listen to radio interview (15 min) on Philosophy Bites

· Matthews, “Letting the World Grow Old” (SKIP p. 228 & first column of 229)


* you are NOT required to submit responses to these questions, but you SHOULD take notes for yourself and be able to answer these after completing each reading. You will use your notes and insights from these questions to develop your Reading Responses (due every 2 weeks in the quarter), so it’s important to take notes as you work through the readings. 

First read

1. Many think of human beings as the “pinnacle” or highest expression of evolution, as if the whole process were leading up to the emergence of our species. What points does Paul Taylor make about our place in the evolutionary saga to challenge this perspective? In particular, consult the section titled “Humans as Members of Earth’s Community of Life” (and please note, Taylor includes MULTIPLE points).2. [Suzuki] Understand some basic points concerning our genetic kinship to other organisms and why biodiversity is essential to the stability & survival of life in general.

Second read

1. How does recent forest research disrupt the conventional evolutionary theories favoring individualism? Please give some examples.

2. What kind of larger ETHICAL issues or insights might we glean from this essay? How might this “community” view of forests (and other forms of life on our planet) point us toward more ethical and compassionate behaviors and practices? 

3. How does the documentary you viewed, combined with the findings in the article, connect with other material or arguments we’ve covered so far? Do you see links to Suzuki, Singer, Wilson, Taylor, or any other readings?

Third Read

Jarvis article

1. Define shifting baseline syndrome, and give an example of this.

2. What is “defaunation”? Give an example of this in insect populations.

3. Why is the collapse of insect populations a problem? (name 2-3 consequences this article cites)

E.O. Wilson article

1. What is Wilson’s “Half Earth” proposal (a single sentence is enough!) Why does he argue for half? 

2. What is the Anthropocene, and how would extraterrestrial visitors detect it from examining evidence in the geological record?

Forth Read

1) From 224-5, Matthews’ argues that simply “letting the world be” would actually halt the capitalist order. Identify & explain a few aspects that Matthews includes in this section to support her claim.

2) Name some of key historical developments Assadourian cites in tracking the rise of western consumer culture.

3) Briefly summarize Kate Soper’s concept of “alternative hedonism,” and explain how it would help promote a more sustainable society. 

Students will write a response to the assigned readings, films and other course materials covered since the last reading response. This is a place for you to record your thoughts about what we’re learning, and further develop the methods of philosophical analysis we will practice in class.  Assessment will be based on evidence that you have remained engaged in class and used each entry to develop your critical thinking, philosophic and ethical perspectives, and understanding of the issues and debates.


Review the materials assigned since your last submission (2 weeks ago) and write a ~650 word response (longer entries are OK) that touches on the most important ideas/points from *EACH* day. High-scoring responses will integrate concepts from most or ALL assigned materials (although there may be some occasional discussions where you don’t incorporate the smaller/secondary readings or media if you already thoroughly covered the concepts in analyzing the primary/first reading from that day). At a minimum you must address the “main” reading or video (the first one listed in the module) for each day. And to earn an especially high score, you should also touch on the smaller/secondary pieces on the list for that day as well.

What do I write about?

Reading responses should record your thoughts and interpretations about what we’re reading, and further develop the methods of *PHILOSOPHIC* and *ETHICAL* analysis we’re practicing in class. What you choose to focus on is ultimately up to you, but it should be based on the assigned material, and ideally trace connections (or contrasts) between those materials. Please go beyond just summarizing the readings to really dig into the implications and philosophic dimensions of the issue. Assessment will be based on evidence that you have remained engaged in class and used each entry to develop your critical thinking, philosophic and ethical perspectives, and understanding of the issues and debates.  

Before writing your entry, you can consult the reading comprehension questions (on the daily Canvas modules); however, while these may be helpful to take into consideration, the idea is *NOT* to just answer a list of Canvas questions verbatim, but rather expand on the issues you find interesting, trace connections, and share your unique perspective on them. Also keep in mind that strong philosophic writing often does NOT reduce an issue down to simpler terms, but rather expands on its complexity and ambiguity, revealing additional perspectives, philosophical insights, and possibilities within that work. Responses that engage complexity and nuance in these debates will generally earn a higher score.

REQUIREMENTS (grades will be based on these elements)

· Length: ~650 words (longer entries are OK too!)

· Include materials covered in the last 2 weeks. Choose as least the “primary” reading (the first one listed in the module) for EACH day. This means there will be a minimum of 4 items included if we’ve had 4 full class modules since your last submission. High-scoring responses will integrate concepts from most or ALL assigned materials (although there may be some occasional discussions where you don’t incorporate the smaller/secondary readings or media if you already thoroughly covered the concepts in analyzing the primary/”main” reading from that day). 

· Take a philosophic or ethical approach to analyzing the material, rather than just summarizing it or focusing on scientific/technical aspects. Remember this is a class on ETHICS, so you should think and write like a philosopher!

· Try to trace connections (or contrasts) between the different materials, rather than discussing different issues for each reading/film featured in your essay.

· Posts should give specific evidence that you completed and understood the week’s assigned materials. This means directly responding to details from the reading (or podcast or film) so I know you completed it. Entries that do not specifically refer to points, arguments, quotes or scenes in the material, but simply lapse into generalizations or personal opinions, will receive a low score.

· You may include personal reflections & experiences related to the topic, but these should not displace the assigned reading.

· Demonstrate that you have remained engaged in class discussions but also developed your own, original thoughts

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