Recognizing Our Place in the World

Environmental Ethics 38 (1):97-119 (2016)
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Abstract

What might a modern environmental or technological virtue or vice look like? That is, what virtues or vices might relate to our environmental place in the world, rather than our social place in the world? This question is particularly pressing in light of the unique chal­lenges presented by the current environmental and technological milieu. A recurring theme that arises in response to advances in certain technologies, particularly technologies that are seen in some way as “interfering in nature,” is that humans are indulging in the vice of hubris, often referred to by the phrase “playing God.” Taking the notion of hubris as a starting point, the notion of “living in place” can be developed as a primary environmental and technological virtue, with reference to Heidegger’s analysis of the role of technology in human life. A pre-eminent environmental and technological virtue—living in place—can be understood in the light of Heidegger’s notion of “poetic dwelling,” where the role of human art and technology, rather than being primarily to dominate or manipulate nature, is to bring the natural world “into being.”

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Nin Kirkham
University of Western Australia

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