Environmental Ethics 23 (4):359-376 (2001)

Michael Smith
Princeton University
Environmentalists often recount tales of recent extinctions in the form of an allegory of human moral failings. But such allegories install an instrumental relation to the past’s inhabitants, using them to carry moralistic messages. Taking the passenger pigeon as a case in point, I argue for a different, ethical relation to the past’s inhabitants that conserves something of the wonder and “strangeness of the Other.” What Walter Benjamin refers to as the “redemptive moment” sparks a recognition of the Other that allows us to engage in heartfelt mourning for them, rather than falling into the repetitive self-absorption characteristic of Freudian melancholy. This redemptive moment changes forever our relations to the world around us.
Keywords Applied Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0163-4275
DOI enviroethics20012343
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Ethical Difference(S): A Response to Maycroft on le Corbusier and Lefebvre.Mick Smith - 2002 - Ethics, Place and Environment 5 (3):260 – 269.

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