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Ethics and Value in Naess’ Ecophilosophy

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A Realist Perspective

image of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

It appears that Naess thought his ecophilosophy could do without ethics. What made him think so? Since Naess was largely implicit about his metaethical views, I turn to Warwick Fox’ elaborate presentation of Naess’ ecophilosophy to find an answer. Doing so allows me to investigate what is insufficiently accounted for in Naess’ ecophilosophy, namely its ontological presuppositions. To be philosophically sound, Naess’ criticisms of ethics need to question the taboo against the so-called naturalistic fallacy, a commonplace in ethical theories since Hume. I argue that a realist notion of value—understood as a property of nature, operative in nature—provides ecophilosophy with a sorely needed ontological foundation.

Affiliations: 1: University of Oslo


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