Features of deep ecology

A focus on intrinsic value can take environmental ethics not only in fringe directions but also ignores the possibilities opened when we begin to work out commonalities between people and Nature. We remain enthralled by critique without proposal. It is for this reason that Deep Ecology may also be criticised from the opposite direction - that it goes too far when exploring the value of the natural environment (Dicks, 2018; Fox, 1980). However, my early chapters revealed just how precarious are market-based solutions to environmental proposals. It was for that reason that I introduced the dilemma concerning coal mining in Queensland as an example.

To this point in the book, it has been argued that at one end of the spectrum you have the deep ecological perspective, and its connections to eco-terrorism at the extreme; at the other end, you have an interpretivist perspective that uses our engaged and perceptive abilities to recognise that we are in touch with those intrinsic values, or the world as it really is. That is, we are part of the world. In the middle is the real world, the world as it is, and has intrinsic value.

A politics based on the philosophy of perception and interpretation might provide a more viable and attractive political perspective that is not selfcontradictory, monistic and leading to unattractive political programs and movements such as eco-terrorism.

Deep Ecology and Nature

The criticisms raised in the first section are to the effect that deep ecology offers a limited understanding of the social relationships commodified by capitalism. It may also be criticised from the opposite direction which is that it goes too far when exploring the intrinsic value of the natural environment. Deep Ecology, associated with the writings of Devall and Sessions (1985), Foreman (nd), Fox (1980), and Naess (1989), explores humanity’s anthropocentric attitude towards the natural environment and the inability of Enlightenment theories of modernity to appreciate what they call Nature’s ‘intrinsic value’, which apparently exists independently of human-valuing subjects.

The environmental strategy proposed here, of course, does not assume that humanity is a blight on the planet, but it does contend that our understanding of culture is crucial in thinking about what Nature is. Of critical importance is the need to explore how modernity has created a technical stance towards different cultures and how this stance leads to a vision of the world where accumulation and control hold sway.

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