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Eco-ethica

Volume 7, 2018

Ethics and Interdependence

Peter McCormick
Pages 125-140

Ethics, the Interdependence of Persons, and Relationality

Fundamentally, ethics may be understood as having to do with what and who acting persons are. Persons, however, act variously. Some persons are basically individualists. They characteristically act as if they are as wholly independent as possible from other persons. Other persons are collectivists. They act as if they are as much a dependent part of some larger community of persons as possible. Accordingly, one cardinal issue for any philosophical ethics is whether almost all persons are, fundamentally, independent entities. That is, are almost all persons independent entities, or are almost all persons dependent ones? The idea I pursue here briefly is that, fundamentally, persons are neither independent nor dependent entities but interdependent ones. They are so in the senses of not being essentially prior to, or not being ontologically more basic than, or not having their ontological identity apart from other persons.

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