The Cultural Causes of Environmental Problems

Environmental Ethics 36 (2):133-149 (2014)
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Abstract

In a range of human sciences, the human relationship to nature has often been viewed as driven fundamentally by religious, philosophical, political, and scientific ideas as well as values and norms about nature. As others have argued before, the emphasis on ideas and values faces serious problems in heeding the structural, socioeconomic quality of the human relationship to nature and thereby the deeply problematic structural character of the human environmental burden. At the same time, alleviating the structural environmental burden generated by global industrial market society represents arguably the single most challenging task in addressing environmental problems. Critically explicating the tendency of our intellectual culture to produce ideological and psychologistic explanations of human ecologically consequential action, and human action more generally, can clarify the notion of the cultural causes of environmental problems and the character of the human collective causing them. Only a structuralist point of view can accommodate the diversity of our positions and perspectives toward nature in the global context in which environmental problems are caused

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