Summer 2023 - PHIL 328 D100

Environmental Philosophy (3)

Class Number: 2840

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 8 – Aug 4, 2023: Thu, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Simon Pollon
    Office: WMC 5655
  • Prerequisites:

    One of PHIL 120, 120W, 121, 220, 221, 270, SDA 270, ENV 320W, or REM 320W.



A survey of contemporary issues in environmental ethics. Topics may include: animal rights, the intrinsic value of nature, 'deep ecology', obligations to future generations, conservation, environmental justice, as well as relevant background materials in ethical theory. Students who have completed PHIL 318 may not take this course for further credit.


The human population of Earth continues to grow, and therefore our collective resource consumption can only increase. Our demand for energy and food is causing the Earth to warm at a rate that is potentially catastrophic for human life and the continued existence of many species on this planet. We continue to learn how similar we human beings are to the other organisms that have evolved on this planet in terms of our nervous systems, social structures, and emotional attachments. This has led to a surge in veganism and vegetarianism both on the basis of the presumptive moral standing these properties may convey to non-human animals and the global effects that agriculture, particularly meat consumption, has had on the health of ecosystems, biodiversity, and global warming.

We are the only apparent species on Earth with developed Ethical Systems—rules or guidelines for how to live and treat others, as well as the technology to effect fast, and substantive consumptive and ecological change. Therefore, one might expect that we should know, ethically speaking, what we ought to do about these problems and challenges, and then go about doing what we should. Yet, there is an evident lack of agreement regarding what should be done, and therefore a lack of action taken, to mitigate our impact upon our own environment and the environments of other organisms.

In this course, we will examine a number of Ethical Theories and Frameworks, the perspectives they take, and the courses of action they recommend with respect to the often conflicting issues regarding how we should treat our impoverished fellows, future generations, our environment, other organisms, and their environments.


PHIL 328 is one of the electives for the Philosophy Major or Minor with a Concentration in Law and PhilosophyIt may also be applied towards the Certificate in Ethics: Theory and Application.  


  • 5 Short Written Assignments 50%
  • Final Paper 35%
  • Participation (assessed via a combination of class attendance and contribution to class discussion) 15%


For the final paper:
Written work for this course will be submitted via Turnitin, a third party service licensed for use by SFU. Turnitin is used for originality checking to help detect plagiarism. Students will be required to create an account with Turnitin, and to submit their work via that account, on the terms stipulated in the agreement between the student and Turnitin. This agreement includes the retention of your submitted work as part of the Turnitin database. Any student with a concern about using the Turnitin service may opt to use an anonymous identity in their interactions with Turnitin. Students who do not intend to use Turnitin in the standard manner must notify the instructor at least two weeks in advance of any submission deadline. In particular, it is the responsibility of any student using the anonymous option (i.e. false name and temporary e-mail address created for the purpose) to inform the instructor such that the instructor can match up the anonymous identity with the student.



Environmental Ethics. Ed Michael Boylan. Chichester, England; Wiley-Blackwell. 2014. Available electronically via the SFU Library.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at:

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

New elective grade policy : P/CR/NC, pilot project in place from Spring 2021 to Summer 2023. List of exclusions for the new policy. Specifically for Philosophy: 

  • Students can use a P or CR to satisfy any requirement for a major, joint major, honours, or minor in Philosophy (with the exception of Honours tutorials).
  • Students can use a P or CR to satisfy any prerequisite requirement for any PHIL course.
  • Students can use a P (but not a CR) to satisfy any requirement for the Ethics Certificate, or the Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate.
  • Philosophy Majors and Honours students can use a P (but not a CR) to satisfy any WQB requirement.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.