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Environmental Ethics and the Need for a Categoreal Scheme

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  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Linguistics
  • Philosophy


I argue that Utilitarianism and Rights Theory, the two schools presently dominating environmental ethics, cannot decide major questions in the field. In their place I offer a categoreal scheme based upon Process Philosophy. Employing the concept of harmony, I develop a systematic scheme that uses both the conditional and essential features of natural entities to secure both individual and relational identity, This focus is then used to show how the environmental norms of stability and variety are not opposed but actually required for the good becoming of everything. Animal rights, for example, can be discussed without recourse to the norm of personhood or the utilitarian maxim. What emerges is a Platonic realism that requires the empirical sciences for the practice of normative thinking. Philosophy, in its original guise, is thus granted a significant place in contemporary discourse.

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