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Environmental Ethics

Volume 13, Issue 2, Summer 1991

Robin Attfield
Pages 127-137
DOI: 10.5840/enviroethics199113222

Has the History of Philosophy Ruined the Environment?

I review and appraise Eugene C. Hargrove’s account of the adverse impacts of Western philosophy on attitudes to the environment. Although significant qualifications have to be entered, for there are grounds to hold that philosophical traditions which have encouraged taking nature seriously are not always given their due by Hargrove, and that environmental thought can draw upon deeper roots than he allows, his verdict that the history of philosophy has discouraged preservationist attitudes is substantially correct. Environmental philosophy thus has a significant (if not quite an unrivalled) role to play in the reconstruction of many of the traditional branches of philosophy, as weIl as in the protection of the natural world.

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