Duties Regarding Nature: A Kantian Environmental Ethic

Routledge (2015)
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Abstract

In this book, Toby Svoboda develops and defends a Kantian environmental virtue ethic, challenging the widely-held view that Kant's moral philosophy takes an instrumental view toward nature and animals and has little to offer environmental ethics. On the contrary, Svoboda posits that there is good moral reason to care about non-human organisms in their own right and to value their flourishing independently of human interests, since doing so is constitutive of certain virtues. Svoboda argues that Kant’s account of indirect duties regarding nature can ground a compelling environmental ethic: the Kantian duty to develop morally virtuous dispositions strictly proscribes unnecessarily harming organisms, and Svoboda argues that this duty compels us to act in ways that benefit non-human organisms, given that doing so can enhance one’s virtues. Svoboda’s argument engages the recent literature on environmental virtue and provides an original argument for an environmental virtue ethic firmly rooted in Kant’s moral philosophy

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