Preventing the ‘Age of Loneliness’: Conservation, Ecological Restoration, Adaptation and the Nonhuman

Convenors: Anna Wienhues (University of Manchester) & Linnea Luuppala (University of


In light of current sixth mass extinction crisis it has become apparent that if humanity does not drastically change its current path we will enter ‘the age of loneliness’ as recently stated by naturalist and biologist Edward O. Wilson (2016). For this workshop we invite environmental philosophers and environmental political theorists to discuss how such a dystopian future could be prevented by ecological restoration, biological conservation or adaptation to a world of global warming, large monocultures and degraded habitats.

For this workshop we envisage a critical exchange between different philosophical perspectives such as anthropocentric versus non-anthropocentric conceptualisations of ‘nature’ in the face of the ‘age of loneliness’. What type of environmental ethic – and environmental political theory –  do we need in light of the current environmental urgency? This is just one of the underlying questions that we aim to discuss during the workshop to consider how far we should go in our attempts to mitigate biodiversity loss.

Topics for potential presentations include (but are not limited to):

  • How should the concepts of ‘nature’, ‘wilderness’ or ‘biodiversity’ be understood?
    • E.g. is wilderness an outdated concept? What is humanity’s relationship with ‘nature’? Does biodiversity loss really matter?
  • What role should the nonhuman living beings play in our attempts to mitigate environmental crises?
  • Drawing on philosophical frameworks such as accounts of justice, care or virtue ethics, are practices of ecological restoration, rewilding or biological conservation adequate measures to prevent the ‘age of loneliness’ and if yes, at what cost?
    • E.g. ethical analysis of practices such as re-introduction of species, culling of invasive species, simulation of ‘natural’ processes in ecosystems such as the use of fire or de-extinction
  • Ethical analysis of different proposals of adaptation to biodiversity loss and changing ecosystems
    • E.g. the artificial creation of fully new ‘environments’, newly introducing species into ecosystems, gene banks or genetic modification
  • Issues of risk and the local impact of any of these methods mentioned above
    • E.g. experimental approaches and their high stakes; the voices of local residents: heard or silenced?
  • Global problems, global solutions? The broader institutional context
    • E.g. what is the needed (global) institutional framework and/or political/economic system in which such practices to prevent the ‘age of loneliness’ ought to be embedded?
  • Should we understand the origins of this environmental collapse and will it help elucidate the solutions for its prevention?
    • E.g. The question of responsibility; are there any normative and practical insights that could be learned from indigenous cultures about more harmonious coexistence with the non-human world?


We envisage four sessions (with three presenters each) during which participants can present their papers (including Q and A).

How to apply:

Please send your abstract (200-400 words) to either or

Deadline: 03 June 2018

Please do not hesitate to contact us, if you have any questions.