This blog is a summary of my PhD thesis as it stands to date (‘From Respect for Nature to Realisation as Agency in Response to the Ecological Emergency’). I don’t mind if you quote me on this, or even use bits in discussion, but I would ask that you respect that this is my work and not claim it as your own. It may still change shape a little between now and submission in the next few weeks.
I’d like to acknowledge my two supervisors in the preparation of this work. I started as a student of Dr Thomas Duddy, a poet and a philosopher who introduced me to the work of Paul Taylor and, formally, to the topic of Environmental Ethics. Tom was a passionate, intensely intelligent person who I provoked to bouts of rage and laughter. I respected him enormously and was devastated at his untimely death. I hope this thesis will serve, in part, to show those who knew Tom how inspirational he was as a supervisor.
My second supervisor has been Professor Graham Parkes. I have provoked him to bouts of despair and exasperation but he has been the most generous and resourceful guide I could have hoped for. In revising my thesis topic, I wandered and meandered down many a dead end but Graham’s clear and incisive commentary kept pointing out the obstructions, and the exhausting waste of excessive explanation and obscurity, and I was spurred on to make more effort to clarify. Read widely, think deeply, write beautifully, he told me, rather terrifyingly, early on. I read widely (but not as widely as I wish I had), I thought deeply (but became distracted countless times) and I wrote, and wrote, and wrote (messily and with too many parentheses). But I have managed (more or less) to complete what I set out to do and I have had the delightful privilege of discussing work with Graham along the way and with his expert guidance I have come to conclusions I would have resisted in previous times. For that, and more, I am immensely grateful.
I’d like to acknowledge Paul Taylor, the philosopher whose work was the initial inspiration for this. He has responded to every letter I’ve sent him with articles, personal correspondence of his own, and insights I would otherwise have missed. I hope to be able to send him a copy of the completed thesis, in homage. There are so many other philosophers and academics from other disciplines who responded to my requests for comments or for papers with generosity. If I doubted the human capacity for generosity and kindness before, I have no right to do so now. In my final submission, I will name some of those whose help shaped my progress. For reasons best left unsaid, I need to hold off until then before doing so. Friends and family, in-laws and outlaws, thank you. Finally, I’m grateful beyond any words for the tolerance of my husband, Joseph, and my two children, Harry and Ella. One day, perhaps, they will understand.