Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Environmental Philosophy

Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Christopher Preston

Commitee Members

Deborah Slicer, Wade Davies


Philosophy, Ethics, Indigenous, Relational, Value, Environment


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Applied Ethics | Cultural History | Epistemology | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Indigenous Studies | Metaphysics | Oral History | Other Philosophy | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education


Climate change has been show to be caused by humans. Human-centric behaviors have affected the world to the extent that many believe we have entered a new geologic epoch. This epoch— the Anthropocene—has prompted exploration into the ethical relationship between humans and the rest of the world. We know that a purely anthropocentric ethical system of values has lead ecological imbalance and environmental destruction, and that a non-anthropocentric (or humancentric) ethical system of value would be better suited for maintaining and regaining a habitable environment. However, past conceptions of non anthropocentrism have relied on abstract conceptions of value that fail to create a useful and practical ethical system. A look into the views of indigenous cultures provides another conception of non-anthropocentrism grounded in the concept of relational values. Relational values emerge out of indigenous systems of knowledge, which are grounded in and supported by indigenous origin stories and cosmologies. These systems of knowledge are the product of thousands of years of observing the functioning of the natural world, and the efficacy and practically of the derived values are proven through generations of lived experience that embodied those values to great success. In order to integrate such values into the mainstream, we must overcome the institutionalized historical biases designed to oppress and diminish indigenous cultures and values. This can be done by integrating a land-based educational approach to learning, where the entire history of relations within a place or community is critically analyzed and discussed. If this can be done, then the foundation will be set for modern society to develop the necessary relational principles needed for avoiding perpetuating the same issues that resulted in the Anthropocene.



© Copyright 2020 Ian I. Weckler