The Four Best Books on Environmental Ethics

Lennox Johnson Books

From beginner-friendly introductions to comprehensive textbooks on environmental ethics, this page features books to suit any learning style.  It’s important to note that there is no single best book on environmental ethics. The best book for you will depend heavily on your preferred learning style and the amount of time/energy you’re willing to spend reading.

It’s also worth noting that it is not a list of personal recommendations. Personal book recommendations tend to be highly subjective, idiosyncratic, and unreliable. This list is part of a collection of over 100 philosophy reading lists which aim to provide a central resource for philosophy book recommendations. These lists were created by searching through hundreds of university course syllabi, internet encyclopedia bibliographies, and community recommendations. Links to the syllabi and other sources used to create this list are at the end of the post. Following these links will help you quickly find a broader range of options if the listed books do not fit what you are looking for.

Here are the best books on environmental ethics in no particular order.

Environmental Ethics: A Very Short Introduction – Robin Attfield

Category: Short Introduction | Length: 160 pages | Published: 2018 Environmental Ethics: A Very Short Introduction Book Cover

Publisher description: Environmental ethics is a relatively new branch of philosophy, which studies the values and principles involved in combatting environmental problems such as pollution, loss of species and habitats, and climate change. As our environment faces evermore threats from human activities these core issues are becoming increasingly important.

In this Very Short Introduction Robin Attfield traces the origins of environmental ethics as a discipline, and considers how it defends the independent value of living creatures, and the need to make decisions informed by the needs and interests of future generations. Exploring the diverse approaches to ethical decisions and judgements, he highlights the importance of making processes of production and consumption sustainable and of addressing human population levels, together with policies for preserving species, sub-species, and their habitats….

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Ethics and the Environment: An Introduction – Dale Jamieson

Category: General Introduction | Length: 234 pages | Published: 2008 Ethics and the Environment: An Introduction Book Cover

Publisher description: What is the environment, and how does it figure in an ethical life? This book is an introduction to the philosophical issues involved in this important question, focusing primarily on ethics but also encompassing questions in aesthetics and political philosophy. Topics discussed include the environment as an ethical question, human morality, meta-ethics, normative ethics, humans and other animals, the value of nature, and nature’s future. The discussion is accessible and richly illustrated with examples. The book will be valuable for students taking courses in environmental philosophy, and also for a wider audience in courses in ethics, practical ethics, and environmental studies. It will also appeal to general readers who want a reliable and sophisticated introduction to the field.

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The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Ethics – Allen Thompson & Stephen M. Gardiner

Category: Overview | Length: 616 pages | Published: 2016 The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Ethics Book Cover

Publisher description: We live during a crucial period of human history on Earth. Anthropogenic environmental changes are occurring on global scales at unprecedented rates. Despite a long history of environmental intervention, never before has the collective impact of human behaviors threatened all of the major bio-systems on the planet. Decisions we make today will have significant consequences for the basic conditions of all life into the indefinite future. What should we do? How should we behave? In what ways ought we organize and respond? The future of the world as we know it depends on our actions today.

A cutting-edge introduction to environmental ethics in a time of dramatic global environmental change, this collection contains forty-five newly commissioned articles, with contributions from well-established experts and emerging voices in the field…

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Environmental Ethics: An Anthology – Andrew Light & Holmes Rolston III

Category: Anthology | Length: 564 pages | Published: 2002 Environmental Ethics: An Anthology Book Cover

Publisher description:

Environmental Ethics: An Anthology brings together both classic and cutting-edge essays which have formed contemporary environmental ethics, ranging from the welfare of animals versus ecosystems to theories of the intrinsic value of nature.

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The following sources were used to build this list:

University Course Syllabi:

Bibliographies:

Other Recommendations:

Additional Resources

You might also be interested in the following reading lists:

Or browse this collection of over 100 philosophy reading lists to find more philosophy book recommendations.


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A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations is a collection of the greatest thoughts from history’s greatest thinkers. Featuring classic quotations by Aristotle, Epicurus, David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Michel Foucault, and many more, A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations is ideal for anyone looking to quickly understand the fundamental ideas that have shaped the modern world.

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