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1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
News and Notes
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2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Simon P. James Natural Meanings and Cultural Values
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In many cases, rivers, mountains, forests, and other so-called natural entities have value for us because they contribute to our well-being. According to the standard model of such value, they have instrumental or “service” value for us on account of their causal powers. That model tends, however, to come up short when applied to cases when nature contributes to our well-being by virtue of the religious, political, historical, personal, or mythic meanings it bears. To make sense of such cases, a new model of nature’s value is needed, one that registers the fact that nature can have constitutive value for us on account of the role it plays in certain meaningful wholes, such as a person’s sense of who he or she is.
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Timothy A. Weidel Laudato Si, Marx, and a Human Motivation for Addressing Climate Change
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In the face of climate change, moral motivation is central: why should individuals feel compelled to act to combat this problem? Justice-based responses miss two morally salient issues: that the key ethical relationship is between us and the environment, and there is something in it for us to act to aid our environment. In support of this thesis there are two seemingly disparate sources: Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si and the early Marx’s account of human essence as species-being. Francis argues we must see nature as an “other” with whom we have a relationship, rather than dominating nature. Marx considers how we currently interact with “others,” and the harms these interactions cause to us. In both contexts, we harm our environment by not acting to meet its needs, and harm ourselves by making it less likely to develop ourselves as more fully human persons. It is the avoidance of these harms that can motivate us to act against climate change.
discussion papers
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Laÿna Droz Tetsuro Watsuji’s Milieu and Intergenerational Environmental Ethics
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The concept of humans as relational individuals living in a milieu can provide some solutions to various obstacles of theorization that are standing in the way of an ethics of sustainability. The idea of a milieu was developed by Tetsuro Watsuji as a web of signification and symbols. It refers to the environment as lived by a subjective relational human being and not as artificially objectified. The milieu can neither be separated from its temporal—or historical—dimension as it is directly related to the “now” of perceptions and actions in the world. In other words, elements of the natural milieu can be said to have a constitutive value as they contribute to our well-being by helping us make sense of our life and our world. In their temporal and relational dimensions, Watsuji’s notions of the milieu and human being are thus directly related to the notion of sustainability. This concept offers some convincing solutions to overcoming the problem of temporal distance, by shifting the center of argumentation from unknown, passive, and biologically dependent not-yet- born people to the transmission of a meaningful historical milieu. The turning point here is that if what matters is the survival of ideal and material projects that people live (and sometimes die) for, then future generations have tremendous power over them, as the actions of those future people will determine the success or failure of the projects started by present generations.
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
David Baumeister Kant, Chakrabarty, and the Crises of the Anthropocene
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Dipesh Chakrabarty has identified Immanuel Kant’s distinction between the human’s moral and animal dimensions as an underlying source of the failure of the humanities to respond to the ecological crises of the Anthropocene. Although relevant for the environmental humanities generally, Chakrabarty’s critique is especially germane to contemporary environmental philosophy. It shows how the reality of anthropogenic climate change renders central aspects of Kant’s influential conception of human nature untenable. While closer examination of Kant’s writings corroborates the core of Chakrabarty’s reading, there nonetheless remain positive resources in Kant’s philosophy for contemporary environmental thinking, for, although Kant does regard the human’s moral and animal dimensions as conceptually separable, he also understands them to be inextricably bound within the nature of human beings. Attending to the interplay between these Kantian commitments, a new critical insight into one of the basic tensions of the Anthropocene era can be attained.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Magdalena Hoły-Łuczaj Artifacts and the Limitations of Moral Considerability
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Environmental philosophy always presents detailed distinctions concerning the kinds of natural beings that can be granted moral considerability, when discussing this issue. In contrast, artifacts, which are excluded from the scope of moral considerability, are treated as one homogenous category. This seems problematic. An attempt to introduce certain distinctions in this regard—by looking into dissimilarities between physical and digital artifacts—can change our thinking about artifacts in ethical terms, or more precisely, in environmentally ethical terms.
book reviews
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Byron Williston Matthias Fritsch: Taking Turns with the Earth: Phenomenology, Deconstruction and Intergenerational Justice
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8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Bjørn Kristensen T. J. Kasperbauer: Subhuman: The Moral Psychology of Human Attitudes to Animals
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9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Shane Epting Stephen Cohen: The Sustainable City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier
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