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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 23, 2008

Philosophy of Environment

Rasmus Øjvind Nielsen
Pages 91-98

Beyond the Moral Strategy
Notes on the Metaphysical Grounding of Environmental Ethics

These notes take their starting point in the question posed by Lawrence Vogel: “Does environmental ethics need a metaphysical grounding?” and answers this question negatively. It is argued that Hans Jonas’ Das Prinzip Verantwortung does not come to an adequate understanding of the historical relation between metaphysics and technology, and that Jonas consequently fails to appreciate the specific role played by environmentalism within this relation. It is also argued that this specific role is more easily understandable if resources present in the work of Martin Heidegger concerning the above mentioned relation are employed. Whereas Jonas conceptualizes environmental ethics as a force to counter the reign of technology, Heidegger’s analysis of the essence of technology lends itself much more readily to an account of environmentalism which sees it as a maturation process within technology itself. Through this account, it becomes clear why environmental ethics never actually needed a metaphysical grounding, and why the strategy of industrial ecology marks a healthy step beyond the moral strategy envisioned by Jonas.

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