Environmental Ethics

Volume 34, Issue 1, Spring 2012

Ricardo Rozzi
Pages 27-50

Biocultural Ethics
Recovering the Vital Links between the Inhabitants, Their Habits, and Habitats

Biocultural homogenization involves three major drivers: (a) the physical barrier to every­day contact with biodiversity derived from the rapid growth of urban population, (b) the conceptual barrier derived from the omission in formal and non-formal education of native languages that contain a broad spectrum of traditional ecological knowledge and values, and (c) political barriers associated with the elimination or reduction of the teaching of ethics under the prevailing neoliberal economy governance since the 1960s. Biocultural ethics aims at overcoming these barriers by recovering the vital links between biological and cultural diversity, between the habits and the habitats of the inhabitants. These links are acknowledged by early Western philosophy, Amerindian traditional ecological knowledge, and contemporary ecological and evolutionary sciences, but have been lost in prevailing modern ethics. There is an overlooked diversity of forms of knowing and inhabiting regional ecosystems, each of them having diverse environmental and social consequences. A better understanding of the regionally diverse mosaics of ecosystems, languages, and cultures facilitates the distinction of specific causes and responsible agents of environmental problems, and the disclosure of sustainable practices, forms of ecological knowledge and values that offer already existing options to solve socio-ecological problems.