Talk:Deep ecology

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This ... needs work if it's going to move past simple namecalling. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 21:10, 1 July 2014 (UTC)

The trouble with actually reading shit[edit]

Like Smerdis said, this article needs a lot of work. It's obviously coming from the perspective of an outsider looking in; someone who isn't heavily involved in ecological discourse (or perhaps, too heavily entrenched in a strand of ecological thought antithetical to deep ecology) clearly wrote the bulk of this article.

While some deep ecologists, like Dave Foreman or Penti Linkola, hold some deeply problematic views, they're not representative of the deep ecology movement in general. Arne Naess, the philosopher who coined the term "deep ecology", didn't hold the extreme positions that this article would make you think he held. In fact, Naess has been criticized by some ecofeminists for his support of genetic engineering and nanotechnology as a potential means to preserve and expand wilderness. In a way, Naess's view is almost closer to the "eco-modernism" of the Breakthrough Institute than it is to the anarcho-primitivism of Foreman or the (actual, really) eco-fascism of Linkola, just with the added notion that "the well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman Life on Earth have value in themselves," and that "these values are independent of the usefulness of the non-human world for human purposes."

Does it follow from that that the AIDS virus deserves to be treated compassionately? Not to Naess, at the very least. Naess recognizes the right of humans to alter their environment, but argues that our right to alter the environment ends with the satisfaction of our vital needs. What is or isn't a vital need is an open question. For example:

"The term 'vital need' is left deliberately vague to allow for considerable latitude in judgment. Differences in climate and related factors, together with differences in the structures of societies as they now exist, need to be considered (for some Eskimos, snowmobiles are necessary today to satisfy vital needs)."

This article needs to be rewritten in its entirety, and should confront actual primary resources instead of incendiary straw man arguments and mined quotes. In its current state, this article reads like a Murray Bookchin polemic condensed to its most infantile and arbitrary. Many of Naess's works are publicly available, including his Basic Principles of Deep Ecology, which he cowrote with George Sessions. There's really no excuse for writing this shitty on RationalWiki. Gozertg (talk) 16:30, 19 July 2015 (UTC)

"ecofeminists" stands out in your comment.--"Paravant" Talk & Contribs 16:34, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
I hope it doesn't come off as anti-feminist, because that's definitely not the intention. However, ecofeminists have often not seen eye-to-eye with deep ecologists in the past. This isn't a slight on feminism or gender equality, but a recognition that ecofeminist scholars have contributed to critical discussions of deep ecology.Gozertg (talk) 17:26, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
It wasn't hard to find citations for the "problematic" ideas mentioned by Gozertg (hence the [citation needed] tag wasn't necessary if a wee bit of effort had been put in).
As for the other complaints, the "vagueness" of "vital needs" either leaves deep ecology as a bunch of deepities about not destroying the planet (as in reading only the Næss' & Sessions' 1984 platform without specifics or practical suggestions) or it is taken to its logical conclusion (i.e. of equal intrinsic value of all life) and you get the AIDS example and then need to find out where the border between intrinsic value and vital needs has to be drawn. As for the "problematic" persons, I'm calling No True Scotsman unless someone can point out why they should be factored out when evaluating deep ecology.
I've reverted practically all of Gozertg's changes because some simply missed the point (e.g. that it's not unique to deep ecologists to consider "that non-human life has intrinsic value", whereas it is characteristic of deep ecology to consider that all life has equal intrinsic value which was what the prior text actually said), while the general impression was one of a sort of whitewashing through NPOV which I don't think improved the article at all.
Feel free to rewrite the article, but don't simply sweep all the "problematic" bits under the carpet by pulling a No True Scotsman or the "but this other deep ecologist disagrees"-card (gee, then I guess everything is a-okay, right?). Or at least deal with the fact that Næss' & Sessions' 1984 platform was a bunch of platitudes so vague that practically anyone could agree with them and then find out why there's even a point in promoting deep ecology as a separate ideology. If "vital needs" can be expanded to include snowmobiles, then I guess that my vital needs could include a car (which I don't have and don't want), a computer (of which I have several) and a host of other industrial products which again would lead to the question of what actually distinguishes deep ecology from mundane advocacy of common sense, prudence and derived cautions against outright wastefulness. ScepticWombat (talk) 22:50, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
What you reverted were the especially egregious sections of the article. "Eco-nazism is a fitting slur"? What the fuck is a "fitting slur"? What prominent deep ecologists are arguing in favor of the holocaust, or the genocide of "inferior" populations, or the supremacy of the Aryan race? The arguments in favor of population reduction are problematic, and this should be mentioned in the article, but "eco-nazi" is just a blatant example of Godwin's law in action. It's name calling, and nothing more. Still, the only source written by a deep ecologist in the article is the one that I added. The citation for Dave Foreman's comment about Ethiopians comes from a critique written by George Sessions, who co-wrote the Basic Principles of Deep Ecology with Arne Naess! Foreman himself later expressed regret over the comment. That isn't a "No True Scotsman" fallacy; it's a recognition of the fact that deep ecologists don't agree with each other on every single point beyond "human and non-human life has a right to exist for its own sake". And that is, according to Naess, what differentiates deep from "shallow" ecology. If you want more of Naess's view on the subject, beyond the absolutely basic, it's not hard to find a PDF of his book "Ecology, Community and Lifestyle", in which he elucidates these principles in a more in-depth fashion.
As for why we don't just let AIDS exist? Obviously, because it kills people, so it is a vital need to eliminate the AIDS virus. And although Foreman has argued that the life of a grizzly bear is as valuable as the life of a human, I doubt he would refuse to fight back if he were attacked by one. If we accept that human life has inherent value, that doesn't prevent me from potentially ending one in self-defense. And no deep ecologist would argue that the death of a human being is equal to the trampling or harvesting of a crop. Nor is there any reason to believe that the deep ecological ethic would "destroy human rights," since deep ecologists don't believe that an animal is the equal of a human in the eyes of the human judicial system, or that killing a cow, insect, plant, whatever, should warrant you the same punishment as killing a human being. That's yet another straw man. Deep ecologists aren't Abolitionists. They aren't trying to eliminate the suffering of every living creature on the planet, nor do they demand that humans never, ever, kill another living creature ever again. If you want to argue that they do, you should provide a source from a deep ecologist. Otherwise, it's just a mischaracterization.
The last paragraph still needs to be removed entirely. It shows a blatant misunderstanding of what deep ecologists are arguing, and maybe an intentional one, given the ideological nature of the debates surrounding deep ecology in the first place.
Naess and Sessions probably would argue that a computer is a vital need, if your life or well-being depends on having one. Like I mentioned, Naess and Sessions have been criticized for their lack of a critical attitude toward technology, including genetic engineering and nanotech, as they see them as a potential means to preserve wilderness and allow for the equal flourishing of human and non-human life. But this article wouldn't let you know that, because whoever wrote it doesn't seek to grapple with deep ecology in a meaningful way, hence the "fitting slur" and Godwin's Law BS. The deep ecology of Naess and Sessions has more in common with the technological optimism of the Breakthrough Institute than the primitivism of Foreman's Earth First!
It would be fine to mention that deep ecology in its less, I guess, bottomless, forms often sounds more like nice sounding platitudes than serious principles guiding environmental policy. That's what should be argued in the article, not this stupidity about "fitting slurs" or how one deep ecologist said something problematic, even though the linked source is another deep ecologist criticizing him for saying it.
Also, for the claim that deep ecologists support "top-down enforced population control", there's a citation to Naess and Sessions's article, but nowhere in that article is there a reference to "top-down enforced population control", just population reduction. In the aforementioned book by Naess, he does go into how population reduction could be worked out, and there are no references to anything resembling "top-down enforced population control". His proposed solutions are entirely voluntary ones, including improved sex education and increased access to birth control. In fact, if whoever cited the article in that instance had actually fucking read it, you would find no hint of racism or authoritarianism: "As many ecologists have pointed out, it is also absolutely crucial to curb population growth in the so-called developed (i.e., overdeveloped) industrial societies. Given the tremendous rate of consumption and waste production of individuals in these societies, they represent a much greater threat and impact on the biosphere per capita than individuals in Second and Third World countries." Hence the title: "The trouble with actually reading shit". The worst you can say is that Naess seems supportive of China's one child policy, but nowhere does he argue that similar policies should be enacted anywhere else, let alone exclusively in the Third World.
There is no way that this article meets the standards of RationalWiki. It is an ideological screed, not a well-informed, well-written, critique of deep ecology.Gozertg (talk) 03:50, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
The text was very specific about why eco-Nazi was considered a fitting slur (i.e. because of the argument that despite the First World having the largest ecological footprint, population reduction should primarily be in the Third World).
Also, I can see you go with deepity over extremism - which simply leads to the question about what's so "deep" (or ecological, for that matter) about deep ecology when practically anything can be labelled a vital necessity - unless the good intentions themselves are considered a crucial distinction, of course. If other life forms can simply be disposed of at will as long as the rather vague and potentially catch-all clause of "vital necessity" can be invoked, then why wax lyrical about their "intrinsic value" - except that it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?
The reason I raised the No True Scotsman is that you seem quite committed to the vague pleasantries of the Næss version, but his is far from the only one, so your insistence that his writings are the only, or at least main, canonical ones - in contrast to, say, Foreman's - do sound like a No True Scotsman argument.
As for Sessions' criticism of Foreman's suggestion to let Ethiopians starve, what's that's actually illustrating? That there are diverging opinions on how to implement depopulation in practice? Sure, but as horrid as Foreman's suggestion is, at least it's a concrete plan unlike simply saying that depopulation is necessary, but then leaving it up in the air about how it's actually achieved or simply riding the coattails of family planning initiatives that are already being pursued for entirely different reasons. The latter is like saying that carbon emissions need to be reduced but not providing any notions about how to do so or only recommending measures already being implemented: It's a less abhorrent idea than suggesting that carbon emissions be cut by cutting off all fossil fuels to, for instance, all countries with a GDP per capita below a certain level, but it's also little more than good intentioned wishful thinking as it amounts to saying "Someone should do something about this".
Oh, and if Næss is supportive of China's one-child policy, then that pretty well fits the label "top-down enforced population control", wouldn't you say?
The picture painted of Næss so far seems that of a rather pedestrian common-sense "don't exhaust natural resources or over-exploit nature to the extent that it'll fuck things up for future generations or large eco-systems", which, even in the 1970s wasn't a particularly radical view considering that the Club of Rome published The Limits to GrowthWikipedia in 1972. Similarly the 1984 platform only preceded by 3 years the UN report Our Common FutureWikipedia and when you have the UN piling in with a report and getting Næss' fellow countryman and former PM, Gro Harlem Brundtland, to chair it, Næss' platitudes hardly constitute something particularly original or worthy of special mention. When you then add in that Næss, according to you, is advocating voluntary population control, yet is willing to endorse forced measures where they're already in place, that hardly makes him look any more principled or progressive, but rather as a "laissez faire ecologist" or even a Sunday school environmentalist. ScepticWombat (talk) 08:38, 20 July 2015 (UTC)