The Social Role of the Philosopher and the Philosophical Role of Society

Avner de‐Shalit

in The Environment Between Theory and Practice

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780199240388
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599033 | DOI:
 The Social Role of the Philosopher and the Philosophical Role of Society

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Environmental ethics has been very innovative and has progressed rapidly; however, the price we paid was that it has lost touch with the public and its philosophical needs. de‐Shalit claims that while all moral reasoning involves a process of reflective equilibrium between intuitions and theory, a distinction should be drawn between ‘private’, ‘contextual’, and ‘public’ modes of reflective equilibrium. Environmental philosophers have used either the first or second mode of reasoning, whereas philosophy that discusses political institutions must adopt a public mode of reflective equilibrium. The latter differs from the other two models in that it weighs both the intuitions and the theories put forward by activists and the general public. This will make environmental philosophy more democratic and political and less engaged in meta‐ethics.

Keywords: activism; democracy; environmental ethics; environmental philosophy; political philosophy; reflective equilibrium

Chapter.  12313 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environment

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