Volume 40, Issue 1, Fall/Winter 2008/2009
A Species-Based Environmental Ethic in Hegel’s Logic of Life
In this paper I will argue that Hegel’s account of the category of life in the Science of Logic provides ontological grounds for the recognition of living species along with their various ecosystems as the proper objects of ethical regard for environmental ethics. I will begin by enumerating some of the salient problems that have arisen in the more well known theoretical attempts to articulate human duties to nonhuman beings. Then after a brief discussion of Hegel’s methodology and the justification for turning to his ontological account, I will explicate Hegel’s ontology of life with a view toward these problems and issues, presenting my argument as to why that account is relevant to environmental ethics and deriving from it a normative framework that implies a duty to preserve species, habitats, and biological diversity. Finally, I will suggest how the Hegelian account presented here might circumvent the shortcomings of the previously discussed theories while accommodating some of their concerns and provide solutions for some of the problems to which they call attention.