Environmental Ethics, Ecological Theology, and Natural Selection

By Lisa H. Sideris | Go to book overview
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Finitude and Responsibility

In the last few decades the rise of ecological theology and the discipline of environmental ethics as a whole has signaled an important effort to shift concern toward nature and nonhuman forms of life. Ecotheology stems from the conviction of many Christian thinkers that the beliefs, practices, and paradigms of their tradition can and ought to be developed along environmental lines. The imperative to do so is strengthened by scientific evidence pointing to a fundamental interdependence of all life. One of the primary tasks that I have undertaken throughout this project is to closely examine the use of ecological and evolutionary concepts in environmental ethics in order to see whether they cohere with current scientific—particularly Darwinian— perspectives. As I have argued, many environmentalists have not incorporated accurate scientific knowledge into their arguments, despite their claims to the contrary.

The concept of interdependence plays a crucial role in much of environmental ethics and has therefore served as a point of departure for many of the arguments in this study. I have attempted to distinguish the different meanings and usages of such concepts in environmental arguments and to subject these concepts to both scientific and theological scrutiny. In so doing, several related topics have been addressed, among them the proper relationship between nature and ethics, the appropriateness of particular guidelines (loving, healing, liberating nature) that these allegedly "naturalized" ethics generate, and the problematic persistence of anthropocentrism in ethical norms and values regarding nonhuman life.

The ecological model that pervades much of ecotheology is assumed to embody both a religious and a scientific interpretation of the value of nature and the place of humans within it. Nature is often understood as both the source and the object of ethical norms; the ecological ethic, as we have seen,


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Environmental Ethics, Ecological Theology, and Natural Selection


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