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date: 17 December 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Among the sources of environmental ethics that have been assessed, none has been more important than perceptions that environmental systems are sacred, or conversely, desecrated. Those with such perceptions have often also criticized the world’s predominant religions—which consider the sacred as above and beyond this world or as a penultimate place to be transcended—as promoting environmentally destructive attitudes and behaviors. In contrast, in North America since the mid-nineteenth century, environmental ethics have typically been rooted in scientific worldviews, which in turn typically contribute to affective experiences of belonging and connection to nature, kinship feelings toward non-human organisms, ecocentric values, and expressions of reverence for life. Even among those who have left behind conventional religious beliefs, understanding the biosphere and all those who enliven it as sacred and worthy of reverent care has and will continue to provide a powerful foundation for environmental ethics.

Keywords: religion, sacred, spirituality, kinship, biocentrism, ecocentrism, intrinsic value, biophilia, wilderness

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