A Narrative Approach to Environmental Virtue Ethics
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A rich hermeneutic account of the way virtue is understood and developed.
Despite its ancient roots, virtue ethics has only recently been fully appreciated as a resource for environmental philosophy. Other approaches dominated by utilitarian and duty-based appeals for sacrifice and restraint have had little success in changing behavior, even to the extent that ecological concerns have been embraced. Our actions often do not align with our beliefs. Fundamental to virtue ethics is an acknowledgment that neither good ethical rules nor good intentions are effective absent the character required to bring them to fulfillment. Brian Treanor builds on recent work on virtue ethics in environmental philosophy, finding an important grounding in the narrative theory of philosophers like Paul Ricoeur and Richard Kearney. Character and ethical formation, Treanor argues, are intimately tied to our relationship with the narratives through which we view the human place in the natural world. By reframing environmental questions in terms of individual, social, and environmental narratives about flourishing, Emplotting Virtue offers a powerful vision of how we might remake our character so as to live more happily, more sustainably, and more virtuously in a diverse, beautiful, wondrous, and fragile world.
Brian Treanor is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of Environmental Studies at Loyola Marymount University. He is the coeditor (with Forrest Clingerman, Martin Drenthen, and David Utsler) of Interpreting Nature: The Emerging Field of Environmental Hermeneutics.