‘Environmental Ethics’ (2014) – 3TU.Ethics and OZSW Graduate Course

Invitation / Call for applications

The Dutch Research School of Philosophy (OZSW) and the 3TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology (3TU.Ethics) invite PhD students and Research Master students in philosophy to register for the course “Environmental Ethics”, to take place in January 2014. Deadline for application: Fri. 10 January 2013

Dates of course          : Monday 20 January up and untill Friday 24 January 2014
Location                      Technical University Eindhoven, TBA
Application deadline  : 31 December 2013

About the topic

It is generally taken for granted that sustainable development is a good thing, i.e. that technological systems and products should as far as possible not infringe on the capabilities and actual resources available to future generations. In this course we try to analyse this and related issues in environmental ethics. For example, what kind of moral value is sustainability? Is it a final (intrinsic) value or is merely an instrumental value? Can environmental values be measured in a cost-benefit analysis? Can non-sentient organisms have moral rights?

We will investigate classical and recent perspectives within Environmental Ethics including the ‘tragedy of the commons’ (Hardin, Gardiner), and the debate on intrinsic value of nature (Norton, McShane), the Non-Identity Problem (Parfit), intergenerational justice (Barry) and issues about decision making (CBA) and evaluation of sustainable technologies.

As part of the ‘skill – component’ this class will focus on ‘giving a presentations.’ Participants will practice presentation skills and will get feedback on their performance.

Preliminary Reading List

  • M. Heidegger: The Question Concerning Technology, in: M. Heidegger, The Question concerning Technology and other essays, Harper and Row; 1969
  • Hans Jonas: The Imperative of Responsibility. In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age, Chapter 1 & Chapter 2, University of Chicago Press, 1984
  • M. Peterson / R. Lowry: Cost Benefit Analysis and Non-Utilitarian Ethics, forthcoming in Politics, Philosophy and Economics
  • G. Hardin: The Tragedy of the Commons, Science 162, 1968, p. 1243-1248
  • S.M. Gardiner: The Real Tragedy of the Commons, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 30. No. 4, 2001, pp. 387-416
  • Barry, B. 1997. Sustainability and Intergenerational Justice. Theoria 45 (89): 43-65
  • Taebi, B. and A. C. Kadak. 2010. Intergenerational Considerations Affecting the Future of Nuclear Power: Equity as a Framework for Assessing Fuel Cycles. Risk Analysis 30 (9): 1341-1362.
  • B. Norton: Weak Anthropocentrism, in: Light/Rolston III (ed): Environmental Ethics. An Anthology, Blackwell 2007, p. 163-174.
  • K. McShane: Why Environmental Ethics shouldn’t give up on intrinsic value, in: Environmental Ethics, Vol 29, Nr1, 43-62.

Programme t.b.a. at a later date.

Course objectives

  • Insight into important debates within the field of environmental ethics;
  • Understanding the structure of the problem (tragedy of the commons), relevant values and suggested ethical solutions;
  • Practice presentation skills


  • Andreas Spahn (responsible teacher), Eindhoven University of Technology (a.spahn@tue.nl)
  • Philip Nickel, Eindhoven University of Technology
  • Martin Peterson, Eindhoven University of Technology
  • Behnam Taebi, Delft University of Technology


The participants are expected to read all the assigned literature, to do assignments, to actively participate in the discussions and to write a paper at the end of the course. The course has a work load that is the equivalent of 3 ECTS.


The course is free for:

  • PhD students who are a member of the 3TU.Ethics graduate school;
  • PhD students who are a member of the OZSW;
  • MSc students enrolled in the PSTS master of the University of Twente;
  • Research Master students in Philosophy who are a member of the OZSW

Other participants pay a tuition fee of 250 euro for the course. In case the participant lives does not live within commuting distance from Eindhoven: Please note that participants are themselves responsible for arranging and paying for accommodation. The costs of accommodation are NOT included in the tuition fee.

How to apply for the course?

Please fill out the form at aanmelder.nl. Add on the form:

  • your contact details (email address, telephone number, billing address);
  • a brief motivation for taking part in the course;
  • for PhD students: a description of your PhD project (max. 500 words)

In case of too many applications, the coordinator of the course will make a selection.

Important dates

The deadline for application is Friday 10 January 2013.

Organization information

This course is coordinated by Andreas Spahn. For further information related to the contents of this course, please contact the lecturer at the following e-mail address: a.spahn@tue.nl. For practical inquiries, please contact secretariaat@ozsw.nl.