Books  General Natural History  Philosophy, Ethics & Religion 

An Ethics of Biodiversity: Christianity, Ecology, and the Variety of Life

By: Kevin J O'Brien

Georgetown University Press

Paperback | Apr 2010 | #185021 | ISBN-13: 9781589016453
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NHBS Price: £18.75 $23/€21 approx

About this book

Life on earth is wildly diverse, but the future of that diversity is now in question. Estimates suggest that species extinctions caused by humans occur at up to 1,000 times the natural rate, and that one of every twenty species on the planet could be eradicated by 2060.

The author argues that these facts should inspire careful reflection and action in Christian churches, which must learn from earth's vast diversity in order to help conserve the natural and social diversity of our planet. Bringing scientific data into conversation with theological tradition, the book shows that biodiversity is a point of intersection between faith and ethics, social justice and environmentalism, science and politics, global problems and local solutions.

An excellent book that makes a distinctive contribution to a critically important and timely issue, and advances the task and agenda of Christian environmental ethics in several important ways. O'Brien explains clearly the central concepts and debates in ecology and conservation biology around conservation of biodiversity, and shows how and why they are central to a Christian ethics of biodiversity. The scientific scholarship and ethical analysis are both first-rate. This is a terrific book!-Dan Spencer, associate professor of environmental studies, University of Montana "An Ethics of Biodiversity not only lays out the arguments and criticisms around the ecological values in biodiversity, but also lays out theological arguments for biodiversity as having sacramental value. The concept of biodiversity as revealing God to us is powerful, even as O'Brien validates the many questions about the goodness of biodiversity, given its dependence upon conflict and suffering. The book is accessible to undergraduates, compelling in its arguments, and recommends itself as carefully balanced in a field replete with opposing claims."-Christine Gudorf, professor and chair, Department of Religious Studies, Florida International University "A welcome addition to ecological ethics! This lucid and compelling book integrates scientific understanding of biodiversity with concern for conservation, cultural diversity, and social justice to develop a valuable Christian ecological ethic for moral formation, discernment, and action. It is especially useful for thinking about the multiple scale-local, regional, global-of ecological ethical issues."-Pamela Brubaker, professor of religion and ethics, California Lutheran University


Preface Introduction: Christian Ecological Ethics and Biodiversity Part I: Defining Biodiversity 1. The Variety of Life Part II: Why Biodiversity Matters 2. Valuing Life & Ecosystems 3. The Sacramental Value of the Variety of Life Part III: The Levels of Biodiversity 4. Scaling Conservation 5. Multiscalar Christian Ecological Ethics Part IV: Political and Morally Formative Conservation 6. Regulating Biodiversity: The Endangered Species Act & Political Conservation 7. Christian Care for Biodiversity: Moral Formation as Conservation Part V: Social Justice and the Conservation of Biodiversity 8. Biological and Cultural Diversity 9. Diversities and Justice Conclusion: The Work of Conserving Biodiversity Bibliography

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Kevin J. O'Brien is an assistant professor of Christian ethics at Pacific Lutheran University.

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