Othas and environment in animal ethics and environmental philosophy : ontology and ethical motivation beyond the dichotomies of anthropocentrism.

Holland, Samantha Jane (2013) Othas and environment in animal ethics and environmental philosophy : ontology and ethical motivation beyond the dichotomies of anthropocentrism. Masters thesis, University of Wales, Trinity St David.

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Abstract

This dissertation first elucidates some central problems with contemporary environmental and animal ethics, arguing that most arise from a reliance on heavily anthropocentric concepts such as reason, sentience, and rights. Second, it investigates the possibility of ontology and ethics beyond anthropocentrism, in which relationships between beings are based on neither identity nor difference alone, but rather on ‘indistinction’. There is a particular focus on how mainstream western philosophy and science suffer from a failure to recognize and overcome two particularly insidious founding dichotomies of western thought and culture: those that oppose humans to (other-than-human) animals, and animals to the environment. The argument that the primacy of ethics must be acknowledged is central, as is the notion that bodily comportment must be engaged in ethical behaviour. Drawing parallels between Merleau-Ponty and other thinkers, especially feminists, the dissertation also interrogates the role science plays in philosophy, especially in respect of its contributions to shaping and promulgating Cartesian notions of the self, and to widespread treatment of both other-than-human animals and other ‘natural’ entities as ‘other’ to and separable from human beings, as objects rather than subjects. A central argument is that Merleau-Ponty’s later ontology offers the most promising prospect in establishing a non-anthropocentric ethics. Drawing on other thinkers’ ideas to ‘flesh out’ Merleau-Ponty’s unfinished work, the issue of how ethical behaviour might be motivated in a less anthropocentric culture is discussed, as is the issue of western philosophy’s epistemophilia. The conclusion is that environmental ethics must embrace an ontology of the flesh in which human/animal and animal/environment dichotomies are overcome, the embodied and intersubjective nature of being is acknowledged, and ‘environment’ is recognized as something that we all live rather than live in.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: Series: Carmarthen / Lampeter Dissertations;10412/295.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ennvironmental ethics, Anthropological ethics
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Masters Dissertations
Depositing User: John Dalling
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2014 18:58
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2016 18:04
URI: http://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/453

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