Forgivingness, pessimism, and environmental citizenship

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 23 (1-2):29-42 (2010)
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Abstract

Our attitudes toward human culpability for environmental problems have moral and emotional import, influencing our basic capacities for believing cooperative action and environmental repair are even possible. In this paper, I suggest that having the virtue of forgivingness as a response to environmental harm is generally good for moral character, preserving us from morally risky varieties of pessimism and despair. I define forgivingness as a forward-looking disposition based on Robin Dillon’s conception of preservative forgiveness, a preparation to be deeply and abidingly accepting yet expecting human error. As with other virtues, however, preservative forgiveness is available to some of us more than others; in the second half of this paper, I consider the deep challenge posed by rational pessimism, especially on the part of those who have been given many reasons not to hope for the very moral improvements for which they strive. I conclude that for those of us with the power roles and personal resources especially conducive to environmental activism, preservative forgiveness inclines us to remain engaged in environmental activism with fellow flawed human beings, recognizing our own mutual depredations while committing us to cooperatively respond.

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Kathryn J. Norlock
Trent University

Citations of this work

Perpetual Struggle.Kathryn J. Norlock - 2018 - Hypatia 34 (1):6-19.
Radical hope for living well in a warmer world.Allen Thompson - 2009 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 23 (1-2):43-55.
Climate Change and the Need for Intergenerational Reparative Justice.Ben Almassi - 2017 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 30 (2):199-212.
GM Crops, the Hubris Argument and the Nature of Agriculture.Payam Moula - 2015 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 28 (1):161-177.

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References found in this work

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Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 2003 - In Gary Watson (ed.), Free Will. Oxford University Press.
Nicomachean Ethics.Terence Irwin & Aristotle of Stagira - 1999 - Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.
1. Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - In John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza (eds.), Perspectives on Moral Responsibility. Cornell University Press. pp. 1-25.

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