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Environmental Ethics

Volume 33, Issue 4, Winter 2011

Manuel Arias-Maldonado
Pages 377-393

Let’s Make It Real
In Defense of a Realistic Constructivism

The relationship between society and nature has an outstanding importance in the fields of environmental philosophy and sociology. It is dominated by the opposition between realism and constructivism, i.e., between those who argue that nature is an entity independent of society and those who respond that nature is a social construction. Such conflict is usually solved by accepting that nature exists, but our knowledge of it can only be socially mediated. However, a new version of constructivism can be defended, one which pays enough attention to the material dimension of society and nature’s interaction. Society has always intervened upon nature and the final outcome of such historical process has been the transformation of nature into human environment. A realistic constructivism allows us to highlight that decisive feature of socio-natural interaction.

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