In this walk led by philosopher Christopher Preston at Helena Valley Reservoir, we explored five core questions centered around our relationship with and conceptions of the wild:
- Does a wildlife species need to be genetically pure (or free of human influence) to be authentic, or is the future inevitably one where animals are shaped by our actions?
- Can we surrender the idea that humans can solve any problem and turn some challenges (e.g. river restoration, carbon sequestration) over to wildlife and natural systems?
- How much management of wildlife is too much? Are conservation-reliant species (spotted owls, California condors) really wild?
- Does it make sense to think of animals (whales, sea otters, wildebeest, etc.) as partners?
- Can animals help us rethink the culture/nature and civilized/wild divides?
About Our Walk Leader
Christopher Preston, PhD is a professor of philosophy at The University of Montana. His areas of specialty include environmental philosophy, climate ethics, the ethics of emerging technologies, rewilding, and feminist philosophy.
A native of England – who has studied and worked in Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington DC, and South Carolina – his life in the US is oriented in many ways around the power of wild landscapes.
In addition to being a professor, Christopher has worked as a commercial fisherman, a tool librarian, and a backcountry Park Service Ranger. Christopher has published extensively on climate engineering, synthetic biology, and the new epoch of the Anthropocene, and finds significance in both the new, and the traditional, wild.
Thank you to our generous community donors for helping to philosophy in the community programs like these possible, to our walk guide — Christopher — for leading us through our discussions, and to our delightful walk participants who generated great questions and insights. Thank you also to Rachel Ritacco for capturing photos of the day!