Ethics, Philosophy and the Environment

Arran Gare
Swinburne University of Technology
Educated people everywhere now acknowledge that ecological destruction is threatening the future of civilization. While philosophers have concerned themselves with environmental problems, they appear to offer little to deal with this crisis. Despite this, I will argue that philosophy, and ethics, are absolutely crucial to overcoming this crisis. Philosophy has to recover its grand ambitions to achieve a comprehensive understanding of nature and the place of humanity within it, and ethics needs to be centrally concerned with the virtues required to create and then sustain economic, social and political formations that augment the life of ecological communities. Achieving these ends will involve reviving speculative philosophy and its quest to forge a synthesis of natural philosophy, history and art to enable humanity to redefine its place in the world, both collectively and as individuals, in very practical ways. Such a synthesis is required to oppose the corrosion of democracy and to revive the virtues of citizenship and the sense of responsibility citizenship entails, but more fundamentally and intimately related to such citizenship, to oppose managerialism and the proletarianization of the workforce and to revive workmanship and professionalism as the foundations of not only economic life, but social and political life.
Keywords Ecological ethics   Environmental movement   Speculative naturalism   Process metaphysics   Work   Democracy   Christopher Alexander
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