Natural Science/Environment

Capitalism, Environmentalism, and Humanitarianism


The purpose of this colloquium was to understand the nature of contemporary environmentalism with respect to its ethical conception of mankind and mankind’s relationship to the environment. What is the ethical nature of modern environmentalism? To what degree is this movement an extension of earlier reform impulses, or a departure from traditional humanitarianism? Finally, and most importantly, is there any legitimate ethical environmental consideration that can ultimately be squared with the ethical foundations of the free and open society?


Conference Readings

Lomborg, Bjorn, eds. How to Spend $50 Billion to Make the World a Better Place, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Demsetz, Harold. “Toward a Theory of Property Rights.” American Economic Review 57, no. 2 (1967): 347-359. (accessed 7/9/09).

Diamond, Jared. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Viking, 2005.

Hardin, Garrett. Living within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Haskell, Thomas L. "Capitalism and the Origins of the Humanitarian Sensibility, Part 1." The American Historical Review  Vol. 90, no. 2 (April 1985): 339-361. (accessed 7/9/09).

Hayek, Friedrich A. “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” The American Economic Review 35, no. 4 (September 1945): 519-530.

Ridley, Matt. The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation. New York: Penguin, 1998.

Schmidtz, David and Elizabeth Willott. Environmental Ethics, What Really Matters, What Really Works. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Singer, Peter. A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution, and Cooperation. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.