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date: 11 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The recent emergence of sustainability science has created opportunities and challenges for environmental ethics. On the one hand, the fast growth and increasing influence of sustainability science in environmental management and policy circles—and its normative character as a goal-directed enterprise focused on moving society toward a more durable socio-ecological relationship—provides an opening for environmental ethics to contribute to the development of this new transdisciplinary science. Yet traditional (and historically dominant) nonanthropocentric ethics will prove difficult to reconcile with sustainability science’s strong emphasis on the anthropocentric goals of improving human welfare and well-being. A more explicitly pragmatic understanding of environmental ethics, a view that combines respect for nature with a wider sense of value pluralism (including more human-directed values) in the cautious shaping of ecological systems for conservation and human benefit, has the potential to draw the two fields closer together at this critical stage in their developmental trajectories.

Keywords: pragmatism, sustainability science, nonanthropocentrism, environmental history, natural piety

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