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Goodwill Toward Nature

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It is sometimes claimed that an ethical relationship with nature is analogous to Aristotelian friendship. Aristotle claims that friends are valuable principally in virtue of providing reflections of ourselves; yet extant accounts of environmental friendship do not explain how nonhuman organisms can satisfy this role. Recent work in neo-Aristotelian metaethics delineates a theory of value that underscores the similarities between the biological evaluations we make of living things and the moral evaluations we make of ourselves. I argue that these similarities help us make sense of the claim that nonhuman organisms can be reflections of ourselves and thus the object of a relationship akin to friendship. I conclude by suggesting that Aristotle's conception of goodwill may be even more appropriate than friendship as a model for a virtuous relationship with nature.
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Keywords: Aristotle; environmental virtue ethics; friendship; natural goodness

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2009

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 (2017) of 1.852. 5 Year Impact Factor: 1.8.
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