Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 485-498

First online:

What Happens to Environmental Philosophy in a Wicked World?

  • Paul B. ThompsonAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Michigan State University
  • , Kyle Powys WhyteAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Michigan State University Email author 

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What is the significance of the wicked problems framework for environmental philosophy? In response to wicked problems, environmental scientists are starting to welcome the participation of social scientists, humanists, and the creative arts. We argue that the need for interdisciplinary approaches to wicked problems opens up a number of tasks that environmental philosophers have every right to undertake. The first task is for philosophers to explore new and promising ways of initiating philosophical research through conducting collaborative learning processes on environmental issues. The second task is for philosophers to recognize the value of philosophical skills in their engagements with members of other disciplines and walks of life in addressing wicked problems. The wicked problems framework should be seen as an important guide for facilitating philosophical research that is of relevance to problems like climate change and sustainable agriculture.


Collective learning processes Sustainability science Wicked problems Environmental ethics Environmental philosophy