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Durham University

Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Dr Simon Paul James

James, Simon P. (2014). Green Managerialism and the Erosion of Meaning. In Old World and New World Perspectives on Environmental Philosophy: Transatlantic Conversations. Drenthen, M. & Keulartz, J. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. 139-150.

Author(s) from Durham


In this chapter, Simon P. James argues that nature can be harmed, degraded, destroyed, but also restored, preserved or in some other way looked after, but that this also holds true of nature’s meanings. It is in many cases possible to look after or ‘cultivate’ the political, religious, personal, mythic and historical meanings of natural things, events, processes and places. James argues that it is not simply the case that nature’s meanings can be cultivated: there is sometimes a need for such cultivation. In support of this claim, he considers the modern tendency to talk, write and presumably think about our relations with nature in a ‘managerial’ way – in terms, that is, of the all-too-familiar idiom of objectives, targets, key performance indicators, and the like. This sort of approach is, he suggests, poorly equipped to do justice to nature’s semantic richness. Hence, in light of the increasing tendency to conceive environmental issues in a myopically managerial way, there is, James contends, a special need to look after or cultivate nature’s meanings.