This volume explores questions which emerge from considering the relationship between nature and ethics through philosophical, theological, ethical and environmental lenses. It will examine the nature (understood as essence or character) of ethics itself and whether nature (understood as natural world) has embedded in it a moral code, as well as examining how particular ethical/theological worldviews influence our treatment of nature.
Is there an abstract, objective moral code in nature? If so, how do we gain access to this code of ethics? Is it only accessible through revelation, as in some religious traditions, or is this code of ethics more generally accessible to humanity? Indeed, does such an objective notion of ethics exist; could it be that ethics are a natural and subjective development? Is ethics a feature of nature, or have we invented it? There is, this volume might suggest, no consensus on these questions, as they at times divide and at times unite both the contributors to this volume and the bodies of scholarly work with which they engage.
As time moves forward, investigations into ethics in the context of the relationship between humanity and nature have become more complex, taking account of advances in the natural sciences and a growing appreciation of nature. How are we to understand our relationship with nature, and how does this have implications for our understandings of ethics? Are we now realising the repercussions of our failure to take seriously our experience of climate change?
This volume offers the reader a unique and underrepresented interdisciplinary perspective, from philosophers, theologians and environmentalists on the dynamic relationship between nature and ethics. It offers breadth in terms of the range of theoretical, cultural, philosophical and theological frameworks, but balances this with chapters providing an in-depth treatment of particular lenses, e.g. the work of Hegel, or the work of Gordon Kauffman. Through philosophical and theological investigation, these collected essays deepen and problematize the scientific and pragmatic discourses on nature, offering scholars solid resources to engage with some of the most pressing issues of our time in light of ongoing debates at many levels on dealing with climate change.
Gary Keogh is former lecturer in religions and theology at the University of Manchester.