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Reflections on Kant and the Environmental Protection


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1 Department of Philosophy, School of Humanities, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India
     

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Kant has had little impact on the field of environmental ethics. When his work is not simply ignored, it is often dismissed as a paradigm of morally corrupt anthropocentrism. Kant places human beings at the centre of the moral universe and does not directly consider the well-being of plants, animals and ecosystems. Instead, they are only indirectly morally relevant to the extent that they advance rational beings capacity to set and pursue ends; nonrational things can be used merely as means for the satisfaction of human needs. Although we are distinguished from animals and plants by our rationality, we must understand ourselves to be the products of nature's teleological development, and so we should not view nature merely as a thing to be used and discarded. Kant aesthetics offers significant resources for environmental ethics. His account of the disinterestedness of taste raises the possibility of a manner of motivating a non instrumental and responsive rather than self-interested and consumerist attitude toward nature. The central aim of this paper is to show how Kant's anthropocentric nature of aesthetic and moral philosophy converge in many ways with those who believe in advancing animal welfare or preserving the environment.

Keywords

Aesthetics, Anthropocentrism, Environmental Ethics, Kant, Moral Philosophy
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  • Reflections on Kant and the Environmental Protection

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Authors

Imkongmeren
Department of Philosophy, School of Humanities, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India

Abstract


Kant has had little impact on the field of environmental ethics. When his work is not simply ignored, it is often dismissed as a paradigm of morally corrupt anthropocentrism. Kant places human beings at the centre of the moral universe and does not directly consider the well-being of plants, animals and ecosystems. Instead, they are only indirectly morally relevant to the extent that they advance rational beings capacity to set and pursue ends; nonrational things can be used merely as means for the satisfaction of human needs. Although we are distinguished from animals and plants by our rationality, we must understand ourselves to be the products of nature's teleological development, and so we should not view nature merely as a thing to be used and discarded. Kant aesthetics offers significant resources for environmental ethics. His account of the disinterestedness of taste raises the possibility of a manner of motivating a non instrumental and responsive rather than self-interested and consumerist attitude toward nature. The central aim of this paper is to show how Kant's anthropocentric nature of aesthetic and moral philosophy converge in many ways with those who believe in advancing animal welfare or preserving the environment.

Keywords


Aesthetics, Anthropocentrism, Environmental Ethics, Kant, Moral Philosophy