Environmental Philosophy

Volume 13, Issue 2, Fall 2016

Brendan Mahoney
Pages 269-298

The Virtue of Burden and Limits of Gelassenheit
The Complex Case for Heideggerian Environmental Ethics

Since the 1980s, numerous scholars have applied the thought of Heidegger to environmental ethics—in particular, his critique of modern technology and his concept of ‘releasement.’ In this paper, I argue that these are an insufficient foundation for environmental ethics because they overlook a violence and destructiveness that is inextricable from our finite existence. Despite this critique, I claim that Heidegger’s analyses of violence in the 1930s and guilt in Being and Time can address some of these insufficiencies. To further develop the ethical potential of his philosophy, I bring it into dialogue with environmental virtue ethics.