Plato and the environment

Environmental Ethics 20 (2):115-133 (1998)
In this paper, I set out to refute several charges that have recently been raised against Plato’s attitude toward the environment and to present him under a new light of relevance for the contemporary environmental debate. For this purpose, I assess the meaning of Plato’s metaphysical dualism, his notion of nature and teleology, and the kind of value that he attributes to animals, plants, and the land in general. I thus show how Plato’s organicist view of the universe endows it with an intrinsic value that is over and above each of its parts, including humans, and provides an argument for the preservation of species of nonhuman animals, which in many relevant ways are not ranked below the human species. In addition, I show how Plato’s dialogues provide good evidence for human concern about the environment and how such a concern is promoted rather than hindered by his nonanthropocentric notion of teleology
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