Philosophy on the Ground: Changing Values in a Changing Climate

The University of Sydney Philosophy Society’s (PhilSoc) Philosophy on the Ground series takes everyday issues in the public discourse and shows how philosophy can enrich our discussion of these topics. In doing this, PhilSoc aims to show that philosophy is far from an outdated or abstract discipline, but something in which everyone can participate and have a voice. The events will take various forms, including debates, discussions and workshops, and engage with experts at Sydney University as well as community actors.

For the inaugural event, PhilSoc, in association with the Sydney Environment Institute, will host a moderated conversation on environmental ethics in a world in the throes of climate change. What are the obligations owed between ourselves, the environment and future generations? The guest speakers at this event are Sydney University academics, Dr Killian Quigley (Department of English) and Professor Danielle Celermajer (Department of Sociology and Social Policy). Dr Quigley has a broad background in environmental humanities, with a focus on theories of the ocean where he has been a contributor to the Open Learning Environment course Global Ethics: The Great Barrier Reef. Professor Celermajer has researched extensively on human rights policy and is director of the Multispecies Justice Project.


00:00   Introduction and Welcome to Country – Samuel Naylor
07:35   Expanding the Reach of Justice – Danielle Celermajer
11:40   Environmental Aesthetics – Killian Quigley
15:00   Human Exceptionalism and its Flaws
33:00   Perceptions of Environmental Catastrophe: Science vs. Stories
55:35   Current Issues in Environmental Ethics
1:06:10 How to Make the Abstract Real?
1:10:00 Are Emotions Helpful or a Hinderance when Confronting Climate Change?
1:16:15 How to Motivate Urgent Action?
1:19:40 Recognising Nature’s Otherness
1:23:05 Navigating Survival and the Human Ego


Danielle Celermajer, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney
Samuel Naylor (Chair), Secretary, PhilSoc (University of Sydney’s Philosophy Society)
Killian Quigley, Sydney Environment Institute, University of Sydney

This event was held via Zoom on Monday 2 November, 2020.

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Further Readings

Alaimo, Stacy. (2011) ‘New Materialisms, Old Humanisms, or, Following the Submersible’. NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, vol.19, no.4, pp.280-4.

Alaimo, Stacy. (2008) ‘Trans-corporeal Feminisms and the Ethical Space of Nature’. Material Feminisms, edited by Stacy Alaimo and Susan Hekman, pp.237-64, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Celermajer, Danielle. (2020) Adam in the garden and Lear in the storm: The human amidst the animals. Textual Practice

Celermajer, Danielle., Chatterjee, Sria., Cochrane, Alasdair., Fishel, Stefani., Neimanis, Astrida., O’Brien, Anne., Reid, Sue., Srinivasan, Krithika., Schlosberg, David. & Waldow, Anik. (2020) ‘Justice Through a Multispecies Lens’. Contemporary Political Theory, pp.1-38.

Celermajer, Danielle., Schlosberg, David., Rickards, Lauren., Stewart-Harawira, Makere., Thaler, Mathias., Tschakert, Petra., Verlie, Blanche. & Winter, Christine. (2020) ‘Multispecies Justice: Theories, Challenges, and a Research Agenda for Environmental Politics’. Environmental Politics, pp.1-22.

Jetñil-Kijiner, Kathy and Aka Niviâna. “Rise: From One Island to Another.”

Neimanis, Astrida. (2016) Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Nixon, Rob. (2011) Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press.

Read, Peter. (1996) Returning to Nothing: The Meaning of Lost Places. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Reid, Susan. (2020) ‘Solwara 1 and the Sessile Ones’. Blue Legalities: The Life and Laws of the Sea, edited by Irus Braverman and Elizabeth R. Johnson, pp.25-44, Durham and London: Duke University Press.