Developmental origins of environmental ethics: The life experiences of activists

Ethics and Behavior 6 (1):29 – 53 (1996)
Abstract
Twenty-nine environmental activists (mean age, 49.8) responded in writing to questions on influences that gave rise to environmental ethics in their own lives. Answers represented all phases of the lifespan. Through a qualitative analysis, six principle themes emerged: (a) deep environmental concern and an affiliation with nature often began in early childhood; (b) a combination of intellectual or academic and direct experiences with nature contributed to the development of environmental ethics; (c) familial and extra familial models were influential; (d) for some, environmental ethics was tied to spiritual, cultural, or religious feeling; (e) the development of environmental ethics was linked with identity and generativity issues; and (f) historical events interacted with individual development in the formation of an environmental ethics. These themes are discussed in terms of continuities and discontinuities in lifespan development, the role of the family and of history, and the relation between reason and emotion in the development of an environmental ethics.
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