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Environmental Philosophy

Volume 13, Issue 2, Fall 2016

Jonathan Beever, Nicolae Morar
Pages 215-238
DOI: 10.5840/envirophil201692937

Bioethics and the Challenge of the Ecological Individual

Questions of individuality are traditionally predicated upon recognizing discrete entities whose behavior can be measured and whose value and agency can be meaningfully ascribed. We consider a series of challenges to the metaphysical concept of individuality as the ground of the self. We argue that an ecological conception of individuality renders ascriptions of autonomy to selves highly improbable. We find conceptual resources in the work of environmental philosopher Arne Naess, whose distinction between shallow and deep responses helps us rethink the notion of individuality and, thus, assess whether the conceptual and normative coherence of human autonomy could, at least partially, be salvaged.

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