Loving an Unfamiliar World: Dementia, Mental Illness, and Climate Change

Ethics and the Environment 23 (1):1 (2018)
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Abstract

Abstract:If climate change is as bad as many now predict, we may be faced with the problem of how to cope with a natural world that is changing more rapidly than our ability to form emotional attachments can keep pace with. How can we love a natural world that seems so strange and unfamiliar to us? For help in answering this question, I turn to structurally similar problems that we face in our emotional attachments to other people. Using the cases of dementia and mental illness, I investigate how people adapt their love in cases where their beloved changes in ways that render her, at least at times, unfamiliar, strange, and unpredictable. I argue that in both human and nonhuman cases, love can be compatible with dramatic and rapid changes in one's beloved, but to achieve this one must remain open-minded about the nature of the beloved and morally attentive to the ongoing question of which states will promote its well-being.

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Katie McShane
Colorado State University

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