Rorty and postmodern environmental ethics

Environmental Ethics 20 (2):183-193 (1998)

Abstract

Richard Rorty’s pragmatic abandonment of epistemological representationalism has important implications for environmental ethics, particularly postmodern environmental ethics. I discuss Rorty’s position and show that Mark Sagoff’s version of it allows for both rational negotiation of public environmental issues and for the creation of solidarity among people regarding the environment. I then discuss Eugene Hargrove’s view that representation, rather than being implicated in the destruction of nature, is a key element in preserving (the intrinsic value of) nature. I conclude that Hargrove’s position is compatible with Rorty’s and Sagoff’s positions and I argue that aesthetic representation may still be needed in a postmodern world that has abandoned epistemological representationalism

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