Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Holmes Rolston presents first-ever Burke Lecture
|Holmes Rolston presented the first-ever Burke Lecture on March 14.|
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
Holmes Rolston, a leader in environmental ethics, presented the first-ever Richard Burke Visiting Scholar in Religion, Philosophy and Society Lecture on March 14 in the Oakland Center Banquet Rooms. He also spent March 13 on campus holding smaller lectures, meeting with faculty and interacting with students.
Rolston’s keynote lecture centered around human intervention with natural processes and the ethics behind such interaction. Using compelling and often graphic video clips, he described how humans intentionally and sometimes unintentionally disrupt the cycles of nature.
“These hunters claim they are immersed in the natural rhythm. So once or twice a year they go out and see what it’s like to be part of the food chain,” Rolston said, adding he used to hunt and even taught his children to hunt.
Rolston said the disruption of nature doesn’t just happen when humans set out to kill animals, it sometimes happens when they set out to save them. He showed the video of a bison that had fallen into a lake. A group of snowmobilers was trying to help the bison out of the water and wanted the park ranger to go for help, who instructed them to let nature take its course, which caused an uproar among those supporting the animal. The bison eventually died.
“Of course, if a human being had fallen in and they had said ‘Let nature take its course,’ there would be headlines all over the country,” Rolston said, adding that this goes beyond animals to all of nature including forests.
“Forests ought to be thought of as communities,” he said. “When we bring to regard forests as commodities, we begin to abuse them.”
The lecture was interactive and provided the audience the opportunity to express their views.
Rolston’s lecture was supported by an endowment fund started by retired Philosophy Professor Richard Burke. The annual lecture will bring a major philosophy figure to campus for several days to speak and lead seminars on a subject relevant to current events. This year’s lecture was driven by the College of Arts and Sciences Environmental Explorations theme.