Dr. Peter S. Wenz

Dr. Peter S. Wenz is a Professor of Philosophy
and Legal Studies at the University of Illinois
at Springfield and Adjunct Professor of Medical wenz
Humanities at the Southern Illinois University
School of Medicine.

He is the author of four books: Environmental Justice (SUNY 1988), Abortion Rights as Religious Freedom (Temple 1992), Nature’s Keeper (Temple 1996), and Environmental Ethics Today (Oxford 2001).

He is currently working on issues at the intersection of environmental protection, political philosophy, human rights, and globalization.

View Dr Wenz resume

Publications and Research

Environmental Ethics Today
ISBN: 0195133846
Format: Paperback, 368 pp
Pub. Date: November 2000
Publisher: Oxford University Press

From the Publisher

“Environmental Ethics Today is essential reading for anyone interested in the future of the environment, our species, and species diversity. This wide-ranging introduction to major issues and questions in environmental ethics employs an accessible, journalistic style – featuring current facts, real controversies, individual stories, and a vivid narrative – that engages readers and gives meaning to abstract philosophical concepts. Topics discussed include pollution permits for corporations, medical experimentation on animals, genetic engineering, economic globalization, biodiversity, and much more. Theories and methods such as utilitarianism, contractarianism, and hermeneutics are introduced as needed to help readers understand and attempt to resolve environmental conflicts. The book considers the views of many thinkers including Father Thomas Berry, Wendell Berry, J. Baird Callicott, Jane Goodall, Garrett Hardin, David Korten, Aldo Leopold, Arne Naess, Val Plumwood, Daniel Quinn, Tom Regan, Holmes Rolston III, Vandana Shiva, Julian Simon, Peter Singer, and Karen Warren. An exceptional primary text for courses in environmental ethics and environmental values, Environmental Ethics Today is also excellent reading for general course in moral problems, business ethics, environmental studies, and women’s studies.”–BOOK JACKET.

Abortion Rights as Religious Freedom
ISBN: 0877228574
Format: Hardcover, 294pp
Pub. Date: November 1991
Publisher: Temple University Press


“In this major work, Peter Wenz has analyzed the relation of the Constitution’s religion clauses to the abortion controversy. His principal contribution is to shift the argument from the right of privacy (invoked, he believes, unsuccessfully in Roe v. Wade) to the Establishment Clause. The Court’s concern in Roe was whether the statute unduly burdened a fundamental right. But tested by the Establishment Clause, statutes may violate the Constitution by implicitly endorsing a religious belief, namely, the personhood of the unborn. Wenz concludes that the Establishment Clause permits abortions prior to the twenty-first week of pregnancy.”
—C. Herman Prichett, Professor of Political Science Emeritus, University of California, Santa Barbara

Nature’s Keeper
ISBN: 1566394287
Format: Paperback, 187pp
Pub. Date: September 1996
Publisher: Temple University Press

From The Publisher:

In the West, humans tend to separate themselves from nature, valuing nature only as a means of meeting their own needs and happiness. This domination of nature often fosters human oppression instead of freedom and progress, as those who ignore abuses of nature tend to disregard human injustice as well. Peter S. Wenz argues that this oppression involves such destructive forces as sexism, ethnic strife, and political repression, including repression of the nuclear power industry’s victims. Catastrophes like the Holocaust and the Gulf War are the result.

In contrast to the destructive “separate from nature” attitude, Wenz looks to various indigenous peoples as an example of societies where human beings revere nature for itself–societies where human beings flourish as individuals, in families, and in communities. Unlike societies dependent on commerce and industry, many indigenous peoples consider themselves part of a circle of life, reaping benefits far greater than the technological advances of the West. Wenz considers how to adopt the perspective of some indigenous cultures and how to make it work in our fast-food world. Additionally, he uses a trip to the World Uranium Hearings in Salzburg as a vehicle for understanding complex philosophical issues from consumerism to anthropocentrism.”

Environmental Justice
ISBN: 0887066453
Format: Paperback, 368pp
Pub. Date: April 1988
Publisher: State University of New York Press
From the Publisher

“This book explores the philosophical background of questions on environmental justice. It focuses on theories of distributive justice, primarily those which concern the manner in which benefits and burdens should be allocated when there is a scarcity of benefits (relative to people’s wants or needs) and a surfeit of burdens. It is one of those rare philosophy books that is at once accessible and sophisticated, as it introduces both philosophers and people interested in environmental studies, law, and economics to germane developments in the philosophical treatment of the question of justice. Since environmental concerns are uniquely global, theories of distributive justice are tested most thoroughly for their comprehensiveness when they are applied to environmental matters. Consequently, most illustrations and applications in this book are drawn from contexts of environmental concerns including property rights, human rights, animal rights, general utility, and hypothetical contracts.”

“This book is engaging, uses effective examples, and is informative to the lay reader. The breadth of the inquiry is quite astonishing, and the material is accessible.” — James E. Krier, University of Michigan Law School

Faces of Environmental Racism:

Confronting Issues of Global Justice (Wenz – editor)
ISBN: 0742512495
Format: Paperback, 270pp
Pub. Date: June 2001
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

From the Publisher
“Racial minorities in the United States are disproportionately exposed to toxic wastes and other environmental hazards, and cleanup efforts in their communities are slower and less thorough than efforts elsewhere. Internationally, wealthy countries of the North increasingly ship hazardous wastes to poorer countries of the South, resulting in such tragedies as the disaster at Bhopal. Through case studies that highlight the type of information that is seldom reported in the news, “Faces of Environmental Racism” exposes the type and magnitude of environmental racism, both domestic and international. The essays explore the justice of current environmental practices, asking such questions as whether cost-benefit analysis is an appropriate analytic technique and whether there are alternate routes to sustainable development in the South.”