posthuman environments

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Week 10 Lecture for University of the West of Scotland, Becoming Posthuman Course


  • 1. Week 10:Posthuman Environments Andy Miah [email_address] University of the West of Scotland 2010/11

2. Context

  • In trying to establish humanitys place in the world, where should we begin?
  • Do we consider our role in evolution, our relationship to other species, our relationship with non-animal species, our planet?
  • These considerations are relevant to posthumanism, since we are in the business of considering how humanity may shift in the coming years, as a result of technological change.

3. Context: Technological Change

  • To this end, answering our question about what defines posthuman envirnoments requires defining the limits of technology
  • While we may talk about technologies as apparatus or artifacts, we may also claim that each of these devices are, in fact, environmental conditions.
  • They shape our existence and limit our interactions with the world


  • By extension, posthumanism is the study of our environmental interactions, from the clothes we wear, to the impact of our carbon omissions on the planet.
  • This is why environmental change is central to the posthumanist debate.

5. Applied Ethics

  • We can also identify the disciplinary shifts that have occurred over the last 10 years and identify environmental ethics as a part of the applied ethical movement towards bio issues.

6. Politics

  • Yet, perhaps more than any other topic we have discussed, the environment engages politics in a way that draws attention to
    • The limits of ethical debate
    • the public context within which policy debates are played out
  • It is also the one issue where the evidence base is most crucial and controversial

7. Key Issues

  • Should we have concern for non-human life?
    • How far should we expand this concern?
  • Is a change in society the right way to handle this risk
  • Is the technological fix a better strategy?
  • What does respect for the environment involve?
  • How should this issue be handled on a global level?
    • is it reasonable to require developing countries to adhere to same standards?

8. Screenings

  • An Inconvenient Truth (2007)
  • The Great Global Warming Swindle
    • Focus on this as the more interesting cultural artifact, not because it is right about the issue, but because it allows us to understand the way in which a dilemma becomes a norm and the impact of this

9. Further Research

  • Cop15 UN Climate Change Conference (2009)
    • 15 thmeetof parties to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • BP Deep Water Horizon (2010)
  • Climate Gate controversy around University of East Anglia (2009)

10. Further Reading

  • Self-censorship and science: a geographical review of media coverage of climate tipping points, Public Understanding of Science March 1, 2010 19: 240-256
  • Ideological cultures and media discourses on scientific knowledge: re-reading news on climate change, Public Understanding of Science April 1, 2007 16: 223-243
  • Evaluating the effects of ideology on public understanding of climate change science: How to improve communication across ideological divides?, Public Understanding of Science November 1, 2010 19: 743-761
  • Global warming--global responsibility? Media frames of collective action and scientific certainty, Public Understanding of Science July 1, 2009 18: 421-436
  • From Carbon Markets to Carbon Morality: Creative Compounds as Framing Devices in Online Discourses on Climate Change Mitigation, Science Communication March 1, 2010 32: 25-54
  • Gardner, Stephen M., A Perfect Moral Storm: Climate Change, Intergenerational Ethics and the Problem of Moral Corruption, Environmental Values, Volume 15, Number 3, August 2006 , pp. 397-413(17)

11. Debate We should NOT adapt our lifestyles out of a concern for the environment . Agree/Disagree