© 2012, Thomas P. Reagan
Understanding Nature itself is an essential component of developing an environmental ethic. However, many of the ‘positive ethics’ (i.e. ethics based on aesthetics, biophila, teleology) lack the critical observation that Nature does not act kindly or attempt to preserve an organism’s life and well being, but rather, statistically, operates by continually ending life. This paper develops from this notion that biological concepts such as symbiogenesis and biotic potentials point towards an environmental ethic founded upon aligning with Nature’s process of turning against itself. This paper claims that humans, being within Nature ontologically yet separated experientially, are alienated from the ideal Nature they must respond to. However, this ideal Nature experiences internal alienation as well; to the extent that many nonhuman animals also partake in the same objectification of life to produce self-protecting technology, one can claim Nature violates itself. And the only foundation for an environmental ethic is to mirror the process of Nature in understanding to what aim such self-destruction is aspiring. The answer: biological flux.
Reagan, Thomas P. (2012) "The Self-Alienation of Nature: An Anti-Teleological Environmental Ethic," Res Cogitans: Vol. 3: Iss. 1, Article 23.