Graduate studies at Western
Environmental Ethics 29 (2):131-149 (2007)
|Abstract||A popular if controversial claim, and troublesome for environmental philosophy, ethics, and related disciplines, is that “there is no such thing as nature.” The social constructionist version of this claim makes it difficult to draw a distinction between human and nonhuman nature. In response, first, the concept of landscape can be helpful in drawing this distinction. Second, taking this approach is consistent with at least one interpretation of Richard Rorty’s neopragmatism. Constructionism can be divided into two forms: moderate and radical. Moderate constructionism allows the landscape/nature distinction; radical constructionism excludes it. Rorty’s claim that independent reality is “the world well lost” apparently marks him as a radical constructionist. Nevertheless, the core doctrines of his neopragmatism constitute a moderate constructionism, allowing the nature/landscape distinction. The real problem is Rorty’s anthropocentric instrumentalist characterization of pragmatic justification. Left in place, it rendersneopragmatism a form of radical social constructionism. Redescribing the terms of justification in less anthropocentric instrumentalist terms is consistent with the anti-Platonist core of neopragmatism. Thus redescribed, neopragmatism is fully consistent with the landscape/nature distinction. Anthropocentric instrumentalism, not social constructionism per se, is the problem|
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