Nature naturalized: A Darwinian defense of the nature/culture distinction

Environmental Ethics 29 (3):227-246 (2007)
Abstract
Philosophical naturalists deny the existence of anything supernatural, such as God, souls, demons, ghosts, angels, witchcraft, miracles, etc. They believe that human beings are animals whose existence is entirely governed by the same laws which govern the rest of the natural world. However, some environmentalists value nature intrinsically and aesthetically, and in doing so conceive of nature as that which is distinguished from the products of human culture. Some philosophical naturalists have claimed that any attempt to distinguish nature from the products of human culture in this way stems from a pre-Darwinian world view in which humans are conceived as being separate from and superior to the natural world. They suggest that this distinction involves an implicit denial of philosophical naturalism. Furthermore, J. Baird Callicott and others have argued that it contributes to environmental destruction by espousing human superiority over the natural world. To the contrary, the nature/culture distinction is not the cause of either of these offenses. It is consistent with philosophical naturalism, fundamental to our ordinary conception of nature, and useful in promoting environmental protection
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