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About this book

This book explores the potential of geoethics, as designed within the operational criteria of addressing the deeds and values of the human agent as part of the Earth system. It addresses three key questions: i) what should be considered 'geoethics' in an operational sense, ii) what is peripheral to it, and iii) is there a case therefore to establish a denomination, such as geo-humanities or geosophy, to capture a broader scope of thinking about geoscience and its interactions with society and the natural world, for the benefit of the geo-professionals and others.

The book begins by framing, contextualising and describing contemporary geoethics, then goes on to cover several examples of geoethical thinking and explores the societal intersections of geosciences in the planetary ‘human niche’. The concluding chapter discusses the challenges facing the emerging field of geoethics and how it may evolve in the future.

Bringing together a set of experts across multiple interdisciplinary fields this collection will appeal to scholars, researchers, practitioners and students within geosciences and social sciences, political sciences as well as the humanities. It will interest those who are curious about how ethical reflections relate to professional duties, scholarly interests, activities in professional geoscience associations, or responsible citizenship in times of anthropogenic global change.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Setting the Scene

Abstract
The recent development of the concept ‘geoethics’ is a response by geoscientists to shape deeper engagement with their professional responsibilities and the wider societal relevance of geosciences. This introductory chapter outlines the development of geoethics to date, as a ‘virtue ethics’ focusing primarily on the role of the geoscientist, describes its meaning and function in relation to neighbouring fields and explores how to situate geoethics in relation to a wider range of issues that require ethical consideration. The emerging field of geoethics has already touched on many topics. This chapter reflects on the significance of geoethics as an effective operational toolkit for geoscientists, asking whether this functional purpose may be weakened if the range of matters considered under the term ‘geoethics’ becomes too wide.
Martin Bohle, Giuseppe Di Capua

Chapter 2. Contemporary Geoethics Within the Geosciences

Abstract
Responsible interaction of people with the Earth system calls for deep engagement with ethical considerations. Due to their professional knowledge and skills, geoscientists in particular should reflect on the ethical implications of their work that could guide responsible interactions. Geoethics offers geoscientists a framework for operationalising and exercising this responsibility whilst also orienting other professions and society towards responsible interactions with the Earth system. This chapter explores the meaning of geoethics in detail and describes the current state of geoethical thinking and its application to geoscience research and practice. It argues that reference values and general principles should be reconciled with context-dependent perspectives in complex decision-making settings, and reflects on the potential of geoethics to inform a more ‘responsible anthropocentrism’.
Silvia Peppoloni, Nic Bilham, Giuseppe Di Capua

Chapter 3. Exploring Societal Intersections of Geoethical Thinking

Abstract
This chapter explores geoethical thinking as a means for offering alternative modes of living in a world where humans and natural systems are inextricably linked. Real-world examples demonstrate the societal relevance of geoethics. Four essays illustrate different aspects and specific contexts. The first explores the societal significance of geoscience as a ‘stewardship-science’ and elicits the often hidden influence of geoscience in contemporary societies. The second describes an adaptive and collaborative governance approach affording more sustainable futures for small-scale fisheries. This approach combines universal values with contextual practices to inform geoethics-inspired governance approaches. The third argues that more rigorous engagement with citizen science would demonstrate the societal relevance of geoethics. The final essay explores how ‘society–Earth-centric’ narratives can help citizens better understand their (inter)actions within the Earth system.
Martin Bohle, Rika Preiser

Chapter 4. Humanistic Geosciences and the Planetary Human Niche

Abstract
The societal relevance and purpose of geoscience are discussed from a conceptual perspective in this chapter. It explores how people should live ethically in times of anthropogenic global change and describes the history and current state of ‘human niche-building’ (or ‘engineering’, in its broadest sense) at the planetary scale. It outlines how the Earth can be conceived as a single system, ‘people included’, by considering the geosphere, biosphere and ‘noosphere’—a term repurposed here to denote the human agent and its socio-technological means, consisting of physical and mental artefacts. It posits Kohlberg’s hierarchy of moral adequacy as a reference scale for assessing the maturity of human–Earth interactions, and argues for the social value of geoethical thinking in shaping public narratives about these interactions.
Martin Bohle, Eduardo Marone

Chapter 5. Reframing Geoethics?

Abstract
Geoethics is an emerging and expanding field which is deepening its philosophical foundations and strengthening its interactions with other disciplines. Such expansion may be in tension with the need for geoethics to be a focused framework to support geoscientists in their work. There is also a risk of ‘geoethics’ being used as a catch-all term for reflection and research when considering human actions within the Earth system. The chapter reflects on how the scope of geoethics might be constrained. It suggests that geoethics might be framed as relating to the practices and values of any human agent as part of the Earth system, whereas the complementary notion of ‘geosophy’ could be used to refer to the broader considerations regarding human–Earth system interactions.
Martin Bohle, Giuseppe Di Capua, Nic Bilham

Backmatter

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