Year of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Department or School/College
Department of Philosophy
Deborah Slicer, Sara Rinfret
wilderness, wildness, epistemic wildness, environmental ethics, rewilding, dilemma of wilderness management
University of Montana
Environmental Studies | Epistemology | Ethics and Political Philosophy
The traditional concept of wilderness was a product of the time out of which it came. Times have changed. The social context of conservation, how humans affect nature, and scientific understanding of how ecosystems function have all shifted in ways that make the wilderness idea problematic. The values that people found in wilderness are still relevant, however. It is the way that they are tied together in the concept of wilderness that has become a problem.
I propose a revised concept of wilderness that meets the concerns of critics of wilderness, and accounts for the tension between the wild and the pristine, by making wildness the sole necessary feature of wilderness.
Part of the justification of this reconception comes from what I call "epistemic wildness." While we normally think of wildness in terms of things that exceed our control, things are also wild in how they exceed our representations of them. Much of the value of wilderness, especially in meeting contemporary environmental concerns, comes from its epistemic wildness.
Stanfield, John T., "Wilderness and Epistemic Wildness" (2015). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 4442.
© Copyright 2015 John T. Stanfield