Christopher J. Preston is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Montana specializing in Environmental Philosophy, the Anthropocene, Feminist Epistemology, Care Ethics, Ethics of Emerging Technologies, Wilderness and Re-wilding, Climate Engineering, and Synthetic Biology. He is the author of many scholarly articles and several books including The Synthetic Age: Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World (MIT Press, 2018); Saving Creation: Nature and Faith in the Life of Holmes Rolston, III (Trinity University Press, 2009); and Grounding Knowledge: Environmental Philosophy, Epistemology, and Place (University of Georgia Press, 2003). He has also edited volumes including Climate Justice and Geoengineering: Ethics and Policy in the Atmospheric Anthropocene (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2016); Engineering the Climate: The Ethics of Solar Radiation Management (Lexington Books, 2012); and Nature, Value, and Duty: Life on Earth with Holmes Rolston (co-editor with Wayne Ouderkirk) (Springer, 2007).
Abstract for "Rewilding in a Synthetic Age: Some Links and Some Lessons"
On the one hand, this is the Anthropocene, an age of stepped up human impact, intensive management of ecosystems, and technologies reaching deeper and deeper into the workings of things. It is a period I have called “the synthetic age.” On the other hand, rewilding is all the rage and a number of wildlife species have made staggering recoveries. Wolves are back in Belgium, completing a return to the entire European continent. Beaver dams plug creeks across Eurasia and North America again, storing oceans of water that would otherwise flood towns and cities downstream. Bison graze the Great Plains once more. These two versions of the times seem at odds, perhaps an empirical disagreement about the true facts. But what are the connections between these two differing narratives? Are there philosophically salient links to be drawn between such disparate accounts of the future? I will set the scene of the disagreement and make a couple of tentative proposals for connecting the two sides.