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Durham e-Theses
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Heidegger and environmental ethics

James, Simon Paul (2001) Heidegger and environmental ethics. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis presents an environmental ethic based on the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. Chapter One uses Heidegger's conception of 'dwelling' as the basis for a satisfying account of the 'otherness' or alterity of nature. Chapter Two draws upon Heidegger's writings on 'the dif-ference', Madhyamaka Buddhist philosophy and the metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead to develop a 'dialectical' conception of holism which can accommodate both the account of alterity presented in Chapter One and an account of the intrinsic value of individual beings. Chapter Three frames this conception of environmental holism in terms of ethics. It is argued that Heidegger's ideal of 'releasement' can be thought of as an essential 'function' of humans, the exercise of which promotes human flourishing. Extending this Aristotelian line of reasoning, it is shown how one can draw upon Heidegger's philosophy to articulate a form of environmental virtue ethic. Chapter Four investigates the charge that Heidegger's later thought is quietistic, a general allegation which is analysed into four interrelated specific charges: 1) the accusation that Heidegger is advocating a passive withdrawal from the world; 2) Adorno's charge in Negative Dialectics that Heidegger's philosophy is inimical to critical thought; 3) the objection that Heidegger is unable to deal adequately with either interhuman relations or the relations between humans and nonhuman animals; and 4) the charge that Heidegger's later writings cannot be brought to bear upon practical environmental issues. In answer to this last objection, case studies are presented of two environmental issues: 1) the environmental impact of tourism; and 2) the practice of environmental restoration.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2001
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:01 Aug 2012 11:33

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