SAAP 2016

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Environmental Pragmatism and the Language of Democratic Deliberation

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This panel investigates a tension in environmental pragmatism between (1) a commitment to democratic deliberation in the articulation of community values and (2) a commitment to recognizing the values of human and non-human beings who cannot straightforwardly deliberate. We problematize and propose reforms to Bryan Norton's account of environmental inquiry. Per Norton, the fundamental impediment to sustainability is the lack of an integrative language that could coordinate inquiry into the factual and evaluative dimensions of environmental problems.
We believe that the methodological starting point for environmental inquiry—deliberation over the values that ought to inform the reconstruction of our environmental practices—is more or less correct. Our concern is that this method marginalizes particular types of values and valuers. Our reforms are motivated by insights from classical pragmatists regarding the continuity between linguistic and non-linguistic meaning; careful attention to these continuities can clarify the need to reform linguistic accounts of environmental inquiry.


Zachary Piso    
Michigan State University
United States

Tess Varner    
University of Georgia
United States

Joseph Tuminello    
University of North Texas
United States


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