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An ecological organic paradigm

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A modern version of the classical Greek organic paradigm can be based on behavioural ecology, ecology being the study of the interrelationships between an organism and its environment. The ecological organic paradigm describes four general human mental functional capacities -- appetite, social conscience, reason and an interpretive capacity -- and associates them, in the context of evolutionary and psychological development, to four general categories of experience -- primal individual needs, society, the natural world in which we live and metaphysics -- with which we have to cope, adapt, and interrelate. The ecological organic paradigm is compatible with both natural and cultural evolution. The framework can accommodate both descriptive and normative concepts of human nature and it can accommodate both the individual and social dimensions of human knowledge and activity.

The framework gives some coherence to the ethical categories. The questions, What is obligatory? What is good? What is fitting? and What is humane? are all included within the framework as valid moral questions. Deontological, normative, communitarian and individual human concerns are all recognized.

One way to understand the ecological organic paradigm (EOP) is to contrast it with the general state of philosophy in the last one hundred years, which might be compared to the story of the blind men describing an elephant: each perspective describes a particular part but none gives a coherent view of the elephant. The EOP suggests that we reconsider in the context of behavioural ecology a modern version of the organic paradigm as at least one useful framework for describing the ‘elephant'.The EOP is a framework of analysis that has the ability to bring a greater degree of coherence to discussions in moral and political philosophy and to provide a basis for accommodation in a pluralistic society and world community.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 300 E. Town St. #713, Columbus, Ohio 43215, USA.

Publication date: October 1, 1999


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