A Basis for Environmental Ethics

Diogenes 52 (3):3-12 (2005)
Abstract
The overuse of water resources in the upper reaches of the Tarim (Xinjiang, China) jeopardizes the ecosystem of the huyang (Populus diversifolia) in the middle reaches of the river, which has led the authorities to displace the population of Caohu (Luntai-xian) in the name of environmental security. This paper discusses the ethical basis of such operations by comparing different approaches, and concludes that establishing a genuine environmental ethics implies an ontological revolution: one that will replace the ‘being towards death’ (Sein zum Tode) of the modern ontological topos of ‘individual body: individual person’, with the ‘being towards life’ (sei e no sonzai) of what Watsuji defined as ‘the structural moment of human existence’, in which being cannot be dissociated from context and history. This ontological revolution, which links human subjecthood with the environment itself, is by the same token the condition of sustainability, which is the most basic human security of all
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