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Reference: Palmer, Clare, (1993). Process theology and the challenge of environmental ethics. DPhil. University of Oxford.Citable link to this page:


Process theology and the challenge of environmental ethics

Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to examine process theology in the light of questions raised byenvironmental issues. To facilitate this study, different approaches to the nonhumannatural world developed in environmental philosophy - in particular in environmentalethics - are compared with the work of process theologians. The primary focus is on thesystems of A.N.Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne, but John Cobb, Jay McDaniel andDaniel Dombrowski are also considered.In Chapter 1, the derivation of value and the formation of ethics in process thinking isexamined, and its ethical methodology and content compared with classical utilitarianismand more recent consequentialist approaches to the nonhuman natural world.Ensuing problems including justice, replaceability, the identification of value withexperience and the subjectivity of value judgments are considered.In Chapter 2, process ethics is compared with deontological approaches to environmentalethics which focus on the value of individual organisms and natural objects: inparticular, the work of Paul Taylor. Problems generated by egalitarianism, individualismand the inability to affirm environmental restitution are examined. The capacity ofprocess thinking to resist such criticisms is assessed.Collective consequentialist ethical approaches to the environment, characterized byAldo Leopold and J.Baird Callicott, are laid alongside process ethics in Chapter 3. Thisraises questions concerning the nature of species and ecosystems, and the use ofmetaphors such as organism, community and society to describe them.The focus moves in Chapter 4 onto a comparison of the metaphysics and ethics of theDeep Ecology movement with that of process theology. This comparison concentrateson two main themes: attitudes to 'holism' and to the 'extension and realization of theself'.Finally, the question whether process theology should reform itself as a better responseto environmental ethics is examined. Some suggestions about possible reformation areproffered, but it is tentatively concluded that process thinking is an inappropriate basisfor environmental philosophy.

Type of Award:DPhil Level of Award:Doctoral Awarding Institution: University of Oxford Notes:This thesis was digitised thanks to the generosity of Dr Leonard Polonsky

Bibliographic Details

Issue Date: 1993Identifiers

Urn: uuid:7592ee99-6439-4bd9-82cb-a8d47077911a

Source identifier: 602354916 Item Description

Type: Thesis;

Language: eng Subjects: Environmental ethics Process theology Tiny URL: td:602354916


Autor: Palmer, Clare - institutionUniversity of Oxford facultyFaculty of Theology - - - - Bibliographic Details Issue Date: 1993 - Ident



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