From Civil Rights to Nature’s Rights

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J. Baird Callicott


Hailing from the American South, I was a slow student, awakened by Plato in high school and introduced to philosophy in college. Alienated from analytic trivia and minutia, I did graduate work in Greek philosophy at Syracuse University. My first academic job at Memphis State University involved me in the Southern Civil Rights Movement; my second at the Wisconsin State University-Stevens Point involved me in the environmental movement and inspired me to create first environmental ethics and then, in collaboration with Roger Ames, comparative environmental philosophy. In the face of unprecedented challenges, such as global climate change, academic philosophy must abandon its preoccupation with arcane puzzles and its studied intellectual isolation and work collaboratively with the natural and social sciences if it is to survive in the competitive and accountable academic climate of the twenty-first century.

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How to Cite
Callicott, J. B. (2020). From Civil Rights to Nature’s Rights. Journal of World Philosophies, 5(1), 183–187. Retrieved from
Intellectual Journeys
Author Biography

J. Baird Callicott, University of North Texas

J. Baird Callicott is University Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus and Regents Professor of Philosophy, retired, at the University of North Texas. He is co-editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy and author or editor of many books and author of dozens of journal articles, encyclopedia articles, and book chapters in environmental philosophy and ethics. Callicott has served the International Society for Environmental Ethics as president and Yale University as Bioethicist-in-Residence. He is the leading contemporary exponent of Aldo Leopold’s land ethic and has elaborated an Earth ethic, Thinking Like a Planet (Oxford University Press 2013), in response to climate change. Most recently, he returned to his roots in classical scholarship with Greek Natural Philosophy: The Presocratics and Their Importance for Environmental Philosophy (Cognella 2018).