Department or Program



Deep Ecology, a radical environmental position developed in the 1970’s by Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, has been extensively critiqued for its vagueness and philosophical ambiguity. In this thesis, I first endeavor to reconstruct Deep Ecology "reasonable" comprehensive view, which transcends critiques of anti-humanism. In particular, I employ the Rawlsian concepts of an Overlapping Consensus and Reasonable Pluralism to argue for a Deep Ecology which defends the intrinsic value of nature and an interconnected model of reality as its central claims. Recruiting Rawls to strengthen Deep Ecology feeds into the second half of my thesis, in which I explore the extent to which Rawls’ Liberalism can incorporate sustainability as a political fundamental and accept the intrinsic value of nature as a public reason. Liberalism is often seen as limited in its ability to incorporate the value of nature in anything other than the instrumental sense. Given the ethical entanglement of our current environmental challenges as alongside the pressing need for immediate political action on all scales, I argue that, especially if we adhere to a Naessian ontology, the intrinsic value of nature is compatible with a wide range of comprehensive worldviews and thus also a pluralistic conception of justice.

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

First Advisor

Cummiskey, David

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2016

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file


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