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The EnvironmentPhilosophy, Science, and Ethics$
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William P. Kabasenche, Michael O'Rourke, and Matthew H. Slater

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780262017404

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262017404.001.0001

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Nature as the School of the Moral World: Kant on Taking an Interest in Natural Beauty

Nature as the School of the Moral World: Kant on Taking an Interest in Natural Beauty

(p.151) 9 Nature as the School of the Moral World: Kant on Taking an Interest in Natural Beauty
The Environment

Joseph Cannon

The MIT Press

This chapter discusses Kantian principles regarding natural beauty and its destruction. The works of Kant are rarely called upon in discussion of the ethics of nature; Kant’s ethics of nature is considered a stumbling block because it implies that one can only have duties to persons. He argues that the destruction or corruption of natural beauty is wrong because of its negative effect on one’s own character, not because the actual act of destruction is wrong. The chapter aims to prove that this principle is not the greatest stumbling block to an ethics of the natural environment as others seem to believe. It must be considered that Kant interprets taking an immediate interest in natural beauty as taking a moral interest in nature regarded as a person—specifically as a being who wills the achievement of moral character as its end.

Keywords:   natural beauty, Kantian principles, ethics of nature, moral interest, moral character

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