Friday, 22 February 2019

Abstract for IHSRC 2019: "Joy in the open air - Outdoor life at residential care"

Along with Joakim Jiri Haaland, I have submitted the abstract "Joy in the open air - Outdoor life at residential care" for International Human Sciences Research Conference (IHSRC) 2019, to be held in Molde, Norway in June with the theme "Joy, suffering and death - understanding contrasting existential phenomena in the lifespan".

Chapter abstract: "The true value of “doing well” economically"

Below is my abstract, finished today, for a prospective book chapter to be written this Spring.


Chapter title: The true value of “doing well” economically

Author: Morten Tønnessen
Recent efforts to go beyond GDP as a measure of economic performance raise important questions about the nature of the economy, including: What is the best measure of a sound, flourishing economy? And what is the purpose of “doing well” in economic terms? One possible measure of the soundness of the economy could be the extent to which it results in better lives for humans – a thought that has inspired measures such as the HDI, among others. In the bigger picture, a sound, flourishing economy should also be consistent with good, and perhaps optimal, lives for non-humans, and well-functioning ecosystems. On this measure, economics should not be an altogether anthropocentric enterprise. To go beyond anthropocentric notions of economic performance, a degree of integration between economics, philosophy (normative ethics and philosophical anthropology included) and biology is required. A merely economic outlook can easily lead to commodification of each and every organism and natural resource, thus neglecting the agency, interests and intrinsic value of animals and other non-humans. To truly “serve all”, economists should acknowledge that there are economic stakeholders beyond humans, in the sense that the living conditions of practically all non-humans on this planet are today affected by human economic activities. This would make economics more compatible with current outlooks in normative ethics with regard to the value of animals, biodiversity etc., and could be part of a radical reconceptualization of the nature of the economy where economic value is situated within value theory in a wider sense.

Busy day

Monday February 4th I:
  • composed exam questions for continuation exam in SVEXPHIL10
  • had two supervision sessions (master thesis, Master in Energy, Environment and Society)
  • attended two meetings, one related to the doctoral committee´s work and the other related to planning of the first workshop of the network for welfare research.

Summary meeting Feb. 7th

On February 7th I attended a meeting summing up lessons from the faculty board´s seminar recently.

PhD Supervisor Qualification Program

February 5th and 6th I attended the first of three gatherings in the University of Stavanger PhD Supervisor Qualification Program, at Sola strandhotell.

Third article writing day

Yesterday I had this Spring´s third article writing day - some 4 hours, focused on an all-year or at least all-Spring writing plan, and abstract development for an article and a chapter.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Abstract for hybrid natures special issue: "Current human ecology in light of Umwelt theory: Human–animal interaction in Amazonas and beyond"

I have just composed or rather edited the abstract below, for an invited article to a forthcoming special issue of Biosemiotics.


Current human ecology in light of Umwelt theory: Human–animal interaction in Amazonas and beyond

Author: Morten Tønnessen

Umwelt theory is an expression of Uexküll´s subjective biology and as such it is usually applied in analysis of individual animals, but the theory is fundamentally relational and therefore also suitable for analysis of more complex wholes. In this article I explore to what extent ecosemiotics can be applied in analysis of global human ecology. 
I portray the human species as a global speciesthat gives rise to multiple ecologies built around our presence. Towards many species, we behave like an unsustainable super-predator, and we reserve land for our affiliated species. We also affect the experience and behaviour of animals by causing environmental changes in land, water and air, by influencing prey densities and the occurrence of natural enemies, etc. To understand our changing relations to living beings and nature, we must be aware of the different forms relations can take on e.g. for wild, liminal and domesticated animals. Aiming to outline some of the most important characteristics of contemporary human ecology, I apply notions such as Umwelt transitionUmwelt trajectoryUmwelt aggregate, andUmwelt alignment
The article includes a case study of human–animal relations in Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve in the Central Amazonas. This is a seasonal floodplain forest area surrounded by rivers in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. I investigate human–human and human–animal interaction in the reserve, with a main focus on indigenous communities and their relations to two primate species, namely the red howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus) and the black-headed squirrel monkey (Saimiri vanzolinii).