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Environmental Ethics

Volume 23, Issue 2, Summer 2001

Robert Briggs
Pages 115-134

Wild Thoughts
A Deconstructive Environmental Ethics

Although environmental ethics has become more familiar and comfortable with the work of postmodernism, “deconstruction” in particular continues to be depicted as “destructive” and “nihilistic.” A close examination of some specific works of deconstruction, however, shows that, far from denying responsibilities to the environment, deconstruction seeks to affirm a radical obligation toward the “other.” Because this possibility is habitually ruled out by denunciations of deconstruction’s imputed relativism, I begin with a dramatized account of the possible reception of deconstruction within environmental ethics in order to stage the ethical implications of modes of criticism. I then discuss specific parallels between the work of deconstruction and that of environmental ethics, and suggest that a deconstructive spirit is at the heart of environmental philosophy’s recent—and most important—work on the question of “universal consideration.”

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