Nature, God and Humanity: Envisioning an Ethics of Nature

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Cambridge University Press, Apr 4, 2002 - Nature - 267 pages
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Nature, God and Humanity clarifies the task of forming an ethics of nature, thereby empowering readers to develop their own critical, faith-based ethics. Calling on original, thought-provoking analyses and arguments, Richard L. Fern frames a philosophical ethics of nature, assesses it scientifically, finds support for it in traditional biblical theism, and situates it culturally. Though defending the moral value of beliefs affirming the radical Otherness of God and human uniqueness, this book aims not to compel the adoption of any particular ethic but rather illumine the contribution diverse forms of inquiry make to an ethics of nature. How does philosophy clarify moral conviction? What does science tell us about nature? Why does religious faith matter? Rejecting the illusion of a single, rationally-compelling ethics, Fern answers these questions in a way that fosters both agreement and disagreement, allowing those holding conflicting ethics of nature to work together for the common good.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
THE ETHICS OF NATURE
9
Moral concerns
11
Why people matter
14
Selves and sentients
18
Biotic egalitarianism
23
Moral principles
31
Living with moral indeterminacy
37
Theistic naturalism
136
A free act
139
An eschatological act
143
A conversational act
145
A selflimiting act
147
A vulnerable act
150
A loving act
155
A trusting act
159

Humane holism
39
Autopoiesis
41
Species and ecosystems
46
Envisioning a holistic ethics of nature
48
The inherent value of wild nature
51
Mother nature
56
Humane holism
65
Ecological wisdom a methodological interlude
69
The case for animal awareness
71
Scientific inquiry
78
The end of nature
82
Fuzzy science
85
Thinking like a mountain
89
Faith and reason
95
THE WILD GOD
103
Religious faith
105
Thesim
110
The resonableness of faith
117
Theological reflection
124
A faithful act
161
THE BODY OF HUMANITY
165
Human nature and good
167
Speaking for God
168
Human nature
173
Cultureasnature
179
Human good
183
Moral respect and normative authority
191
Why culture matters to an ethics of nature
194
The fellowship of creation
201
Human dominion and the fellowship of creation
207
Toward a theistic ethics of nature
214
Predation in the wild
216
Human predation
223
The politics of nature
233
Bibliography
242
Index of names
261
Index of subjects
264
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

Richard L. Fern, who holds advanced degrees in Philosophy and Religious Studies (Ph.D., Yale University), Theology (M.Th., Southern Methodist University), and Law (J.D., Yale Law School), taught ethics for many years at the University of Illinois and Yale Divinity School. He is currently taking advantage of an early retirement to write on topics of interest.

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