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Against Grand Theory in Environmental Ethics

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Environmental ethics has been strongly influenced by biological ideas. This essay traces a number of these influences. Unfortunately, environmental ethicists have tended to produce moral theories on a grand scale. This tendency is criticized. It is argued that environmental ethicists should allow the ecological conception of the complexity of biological communities to influence their conception of the moral community. If this were to happen, it is argued, they would have to turn away from grand theories to 'theories of the middle range' while adopting a more 'empirical' approach to moral philosophy.
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Keywords: ecology; environment; evolution; grand theories; moral community; moral considerability

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1994-02-01

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2016) of 1.279.
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