PHILOSOPHY GONE WILD; Essays in Environmental Ethics by

PHILOSOPHY GONE WILD; Essays in Environmental Ethics

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A collection of personal and philosophical explorations of nature that ranges from the eloquent to the impenetrable. From Genesis to Darwin to American Manifest Destiny, a key axiom of Western culture has been that nature is a vast storehouse of natural resources designed for human use. Rolston, part of a new generation of philosophers, believes that nature is also a source of moral values. He considers the new ecological consciousness a part of the ongoing moral awakening in human nature that has enlarged the notion of kinship from family to tribe to nation and, now, to ""biosphere."" Rolston sees nature as a ""generative process,"" a ""great river of life"" that people should see themselves a part of and strive to preserve. Other thinkers have contended that to allow the current maelstrom of extinctions of wild creatures to continue is wrong because precious natural resources may be lost forever, because the biosphere upon which we all depend may be thrown out of whack, or because individual animals suffer. According to Rolston, extinction of entire species, nature's genetic building blocks, shuts down the generative process, halting the ""historical flow in which the vitality of life is laid."" This leads him to suggest that the ""individual,"" on which ethics traditionally has been based, is less important than the ""species""--a controversial assertion. At his best, Rolston is able to convey his own deep experiences of wilderness; he also proposes a useful set of guidelines on how environmental ethics should operate in the worlds of business and government. At his worst, he forces readers to wade through dissertations on ""technical oughts,"" ""proximate moral oughts,"" ""antecedent moral oughts"" and other opaque concepts that can be deciphered only by devotees of academic philosophy.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1986
Publisher: Prometheus