Gratitude and Alterity in Environmental Virtue Ethics

Environmental Values 29 (4):481-498 (2020)
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Abstract

Rachel Carson begins her revolutionary book Silent Spring with a quote from E.B. White that reads 'we would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively'. While White's advice can account for an instrumental relationship towards nature, I believe that the more important relationship offered in his recommendation is one of appreciation or gratitude. But how are we to understand gratitude as appreciating Nature non-instrumentally when it has traditionally always been understood as a response to a benefit received? My motivation is to modify our traditional conception of gratitude alongside Simon Hailwood's account of the 'Otherness of Nature' to see how we can truly show gratitude for Nature rather than simply reflecting on how Nature serves human interests.

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Nathan Wood
University of Texas Health Center at Tyler

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