Environmental Ethics and the Question of Cosmic Purpose

Environmental Ethics 16 (3):303-314 (1994)
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Abstract

In the context of the earlier views of John Haught, I discuss the paradox that while environmental philosophers seek a viable ethics, advocates of the majority view, scientific materialism, deny an intrinsic value to nature. I argue that a new science, just now arising, may set aside this pessimistic view, replacing it with a conception of the cosmos as a self-organizing genesis. Its method is holistic and integrative rather than analytical and divisive. After a survey of its overall outlines, I introduce some salient features of the central trend, a key property, and a universal complementarity and explore their relevance for a scientifically based natural ethics that takes into account an ecological self, animal awareness, and cooperative communities.

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