Ecological Psychology and the Environmentalist Promise of Affordances

AbstractWhat is ecological about Gibsonian Ecological Psychology? Well-known senses in which Gibson’s scientific program is ‘ecological’ have to do with its theoretical, ontological and methodological foundations. But, besides these, the Gibsonian framework is ‘ecological’ in an additional sense that has remained understudied and poorly understood—a sense of “ecological” that connects Gibson’s view to the environmentalism of environmental psychology and environmental ethics. This paper focuses on the latter sense of ‘ecological’, and explores the relevance of Gibson’s notion of “affordance” for thinking about environmental issues like deforestation, pollution and climate change. One existing account is criticized and an alternative is proposed.

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