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Environmental Values

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Environmental Values

No Experience Necessary? Foundationalism and the Retreat from Culture in Environmental Ethics

Ben A. Minteer

Environmental Values 7(1998): 333-348. doi: 10.3197/096327198129341618

Many of the leading contributors to the field of environmental ethics demonstrate a preference for foundationalist approaches in their theoretical justifications of environmentalism. In this paper, I criticise this tendency as it figures in the work of Holmes Rolston III, J. Baird Callicott, and Eric Katz. I illustrate how these writers' desire for philosophical absolutes leads them to reject the moral resources present within human culture; a move that carries with it a number of troubling philosophical and political problems. I conclude that environmental theorists would be better served by taking a more contextual, social, and pragmatic approach to justifying their moral projects regarding nature, and that this mode of inquiry will ultimately lead toward a more philosophically sound and democratically authentic environmental ethics.

KEYWORDS: environmental ethics, foundationalism, pragmatism, contextualism

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles:

Silencing Philosophers: Minteer and the Foundations of Anti-foundationalism. J. Baird Callicott

The Pragmatic Power and Promise of Theoretical Environmental Ethics: Forging a New Discourse J. Baird Callicott

What's In a Name? Pragmatism, Essentialism, and Environmental Ethics. Mark A. Michael

Towards an Adequate Environmental Virtue Ethic. Ronald Sandler

Re-Thinking the Unthinkable: Environmental Ethics and the Presumptive Argument Against Geoengineering Christopher J. Preston

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