Chapter

In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World

Philip J. Cafaro

in Thoreau's Importance for Philosophy

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780823239306
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823239344 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823239306.003.0005

Series: American Philosophy (FUP)

In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World

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Thoreau was a leading critic of anthropocentrism, the view that only human beings have rights or “intrinsic value,” and that other creatures are valuable solely as human resources, and may be used in any way we see fit. While he anticipates contemporary arguments for intrinsic value, Thoreau also considers what is demanded from us if we recognize nature's intrinsic value, and he makes practical suggestions about how we can live up to those demands. Perhaps most important, Thoreau shows how to lead a happy, flourishing life while still respecting nature. Walden thus provides a fully developed and inspiring environmental virtue ethics, which links environmental protection to human flourishing. This ethics demands restraint from us in our dealings with nature, but in return it offers us hope that we ourselves will lead better lives.

Keywords: Intrinsic value; virtue ethics; environmental ethics; conservation

Chapter.  9001 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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