Living up to our Humanity: The Elevated Extinction Rate Event and What it Says About Us

Ethics, Policy and Environment 17 (3):339-354 (2014)

Authors
Jeremy David Bendik-Keymer
Case Western Reserve University
Abstract
Either we are in an elevated extinction rate event or in a mass extinction. Scientists disagree, and the matter cannot be resolved empirically until it is too late. We are the cause of the elevated extinction rate. What does this say about us, we who are Homo sapiens—the wise hominid? Beginning with the Renaissance and spreading during the 18th century, the normative notion of humanity has arisen to stand for what expresses our dignity as humans—specifically our thoughtfulness, in the double sense of our capacity for reasoned choice and our capacity to enter sympathetically into the lives of others considering their good outside of the egotistical orbit of our own. Concurrent with this tradition has been a counter-current of critical thought viewing humans as self-defeating or self-destructive beings. This view reached great heights in the 20th century. Our causing an elevated extinction rate is largely unintentional and goes against our humanity in form as well as in content. Accordingly, it shows us to ..
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DOI 10.1080/21550085.2014.955309
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Natural Goodness.Philippa Foot - 2001 - Oxford University Press.
Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785/2002 - Oxford University Press.

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