Environmental Ethics

Volume 14, Issue 2, Summer 1992

Robert C. Fuller
Pages 159-176

American Pragmatism Reconsidered
William James’ Ecological Ethic

In this paper, I argue that pragmatism, at least in its formulation by William James, squarely addresses the metaethical and normative issues at the heart of our present crisis in moral justification. James gives ethics an empirical foundation that permits the natural and social sciences a clear role in defining our obligation to the wider environment. Importantly, James’ pragmatism also addresses the psychological and cultural factors that help elicit our willingness to adopt an ethical posture toward life.

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