Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2016

Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy




Dr. Mark Woods


I will be addressing the broad set of impacts generally referred to as "the environmental crisis.” I argue that this environmental crisis is truly an ecological one, insofar as humans are its primary drivers as well as its primary victims. I then investigate the structural cause (or structural causes) which produce this multitude of effects. In turn, this leads me to seek out and address the social underpinnings of this problem. I identify capitalism (specifically, its current form of global neoliberal economics) as a major driver of the ecological crisis and explore the relationship between capitalism and environmental practice. As such, “capitalism” must be broken down into its constituent parts and internal logics. The relevant aspects of this relationship I will address include: capitalism as a process (always in flux, always growing and accumulating, always transcending boundaries), capitalism as a mode of social organization (biopolitics—structuring the way we live in society; economism—structuring the way we talk about, think about, and understand relationships), and the resistance of nature to commodification (nature being broken down from a cohesive whole and commodified). I will not only explicate the internal inconsistencies of capitalism in relation to environmental sustainability, but I will also discuss a few neoliberal attempts at remediating the ecological crisis and how these are ultimately counterproductive. Lastly, I will explore “political ecology” and “steady state economics” as potentially hopeful translations of environmental science into the political realm of policymaking.