The first half of the book concentrates on key definitions and epistemological issues, including an overview of philosophy as applied to technology, a definition of technology, and an examination of technology as it relates to practical and ...
This book shows the vital relationship between human life and the philosophical placement of value, emphasizing the now-occurring transition from the old mechanical world view to the postmodern alternative inspired by ecology.
In this brief comment on Ted Schoen’s paper, I tend to agree more than I disagree. Methodological isolation has been widely and uncritically accepted by thinkers about religion and science, and Schoen’s dissipation of the isolationist discourse deserves positive notice. For too long, science has been the bully of the epistemic neighborhood, and religious thinkers have taken refuge in methodological isolation. As Schoen argues, neither religion nor science is isolated; rather, both are interacting in the same comprehensive and value-laden domain, (...) which also includes art, poetry, ethics and metaphysics. (shrink)
Many environmental thinkers are torn in two opposing directions at once. For good reasons we are appalled by the damage that has been done to the earth by the ethos of heedless anthropocentric individualism, which has achieved its colossal feats of exploitation, encouraged to selfishness by its world view—of relation-free atoms—while chanting ‘reduction’ as its mantra. But also for good reasons we are repelled, at the other extreme, by environmentally correct images of mindless biocentric collectivisms in which precious personal values (...) are overridden for the good of some healthy beehive ‘whole’. (shrink)
There is a dilemma facing mainstream environmental ethicists. One of our leading spokesmen, Holmes Rolston, III, offers a rich ethical position, but one that lacks internal connections between principles relevant to the environment and principles relevant to human society. These principles are just different; thus no higher-order guidance is available to cope with cases of conflict between them. A second major spokesman, Baird Callicott, recommends a "land ethics" that is internally coherent but sadly inadequate for addressing many distinctly human ethical (...) concerns. To escape this dilemma I advocate an alternative worldview, "Personalistic Organicism." On this view, inspired by Alfred North Whitehead, a continuum of values, pervading the universe, can undergird a unified ethics in which human persons are recognized as especially valuable without rupturing the continuities that bind humanity to the rest of the living (and nonliving) environment. (shrink)
Meat?eating as a human practice has been under ethical attack from philosophers such as Peter Singer and Tom Regan on both utilitarian and deontological grounds. An organicist ethic, on the other hand, recognizes that all life other than the primary producers, the plants, must feed on life. This essay affirms, with many environmental ethicists, the moralconsiderability of biota other than the human, but denies that this enlargement of the moral community beyond Homo sapiens necessarily precludes our eating of meat. First, (...) absolute deontological arguments against meat?eating are disputed, then utilitarian?hedonistic arguments are shown not to be sufficient to require ethical vegetarianism. Both sorts of arguments have strengths, however, that set us on guard against current abuses in the meat?raising and slaughtering industries. If the principle of ?due respect? for beings with different degrees of intrinsic value is honored, then moderate meat?eating under reformed social practices can be seen as licit. Two final problems then require investigation: the problem of dietary justice for poor humans and the problem of ?speciesism?. Dealing with the latter requires discussion of cannibalism and the ethics of humans being eaten by still higher ?aliens? (shrink)
There is a dilemma facing mainstream environmental ethicists. One of our leading spokesmen, Holmes Rolston, III, offers a rich ethical position, but one that lacks internal connections between principles relevant to the environment and principles relevant to human society. These principles are just different; thus no higher-order guidance is available to cope with cases of conflict between them. A second major spokesman, Baird Callicott, recommends a "land ethics" that is internally coherent but sadly inadequate for addressing many distinctly human ethical (...) concerns. To escape this dilemma I advocate an alternative worldview, "Personalistic Organicism." On this view, inspired by Alfred North Whitehead, a continuum of values, pervading the universe, can undergird a unified ethics in which human persons are recognized as especially valuable without rupturing the continuities that bind humanity to the rest of the living environment. (shrink)
In this thorough compendium, nineteen accomplished scholars explore, in some manner the values they find inherent in the world, their nature, and revelence through the thought of Frederick FerrZ. These essays, informed by the insights of FerrZ and coming from manifold perspectives—ethics, philosophy, theology, and environmental studies, advance an ambitious challenge to current intellectual and scholarly fashions.
An organismic viewpoint is a welcome alternative to modern mechanistic consciousness, with the latter’s excessive epistemic reliance on analysis, its ontological presumption of atomism, and its value commitments to competition, quantification, reduction, and predictability. These ideas have had negative social and environmental consequences and require replacement. Organismic ethics, grounded in the “wisdom of life”--especially the dialectical triad of creativity, homeostasis, and holism-is far healthier. But organicism alone has serious defects sometimes overlooked by environmental enthusiasts (earlier including this author): life’s creativity (...) wastes individual organisms, and life’s holism neglects the unique value of parts in favor of larger unities. Is it possible to work out a genuinely personalistic organicism? Traditional personalistic idealism will not do, but insights into essential personal qualities may enrich the concepts of creativity, homeostasis, and holism enough to offer a start toward a more adequate ethic. (shrink)
Notoriously, beauty is subject to time’s “tooth”; but—somehow—we sense also the imperviousness of achieved value to mere duration. This paradox is illustrated using a recent art event, and three principles analyzed from the case in point: (1) the exclusive intrinsic importance of subjective immediacy, (2) the necessity of intersubjective connections, and (3) the crucial place of instrumental value. Moving from art to metaphysics to nature, I conclude with discussions of habitat and of evolution. Only if a habitat’s instrumental value (for (...) many centers of subjective immediacy besides human ones) is adequately respected can anthropocentric values be prevented from always “trumping” all others. I reconsider evolution in terms of many interconnected value-realizing subjects, presenting the proffered “kalogenic” perspective as a manifestation of the most fundamental process of the universe—one in which the pursuit, actualization, and defense of concrete beauty actually generates what we abstractly call “time.”. (shrink)
The many admirable, endearing—and frustrating—features of Boston Personalism are beautifully reflected in this book. It should be welcomed for several reasons. It is timely; indeed, it comes at a moment that may show an upsurge of interest in the Personalist tradition. It is handsome; Mercer University Press should be praised for producing a book that is a physical delight to hold and to read. It is solid; the editors should be congratulated for successfully turning a series of videotaped lectures into (...) a book with intellectual substance and thematic integrity. The lectures themselves, given in 1984 as part of a course taught by Paul Deats and John Lavely at Boston University, were funded by a grant from the Divisions of Higher Education of the United Methodist Church. (shrink)
Given this chance to express my general reflections on our collection of papers, I shall highlight the themes that are of greatest importance to me and make connections between my own views and the views of the other authors who have chosen to address the same themes. This exercise in triangulation on the logical map created by the collection has been illuminating for me; I hope the following may serve to make some of the major features of our common terrain (...) come into focus more clearly, thus underscoring which important issues concern many of us at present, despite our specific differences. (shrink)
I hope my readers will indulge a few personal reminiscences at the outset. This invitation, for me to write about Brand Blanshard’s thought for the first time since his death, has triggered so many important memories that I find the standard tone of a professional article quite inappropriate to what I have to say.
What is this about “the practicality of metaphysics?” Everyone knows that on a scale from “practical” to “theoretical,” metaphysics stands as far toward the “theoretical” pole as one can get, except perhaps for pure mathematics; but mathematics is not about anything, unless you count numbers as “something”—which is a metaphysical question that outflanks, encompasses, and overtakes even mathematics on the theory scale. This capacity to encompass and devour other fields illustrates the unlimited comprehensiveness of metaphysics, tottering dangerously at one extreme, (...) the most theoretical of all theory. (shrink)