Environmental Ethics

Volume 13, Issue 1, Spring 1991

R. P. Peerenboom
Pages 3-22

Beyond Naturalism
A Reconstruction of Daoist Environmental Ethics

In this paper I challenge the traditional reading of Daoism as naturalism and the interpretation of wu wei as “acting naturally.” I argue that such an interpretation is problematic and unhelpful to the would-be Daoist environmental ethicist. I then lay the groundwork for a philosophically viable environmental ethic by elucidating the pragmatic aspects of Daoist thought. While Daoism so interpreted is no panacea for all of our environmental ills, it does provide a methodology that may prove effective in alleviating some of our discomfort.

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