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FREEDOM AND DEPENDENCY IN AN ENVIRONMENTAL AGE

  • Andrew Dobson (a1)
Abstract

In this article the implications of our nature as both autonomous and heteronomous beings is discussed. It is suggested that our condition as part-dependent creatures calls for a reconsideration of the nature of both freedom and liberalism, and the work of Alasdair MacIntyre and Jean-Paul Sartre is used to illustrate the natural and historical dimensions of our dependency. The conclusion reached is that neither deep ecological re-enchantment nor full-blooded cornucopianism are possible, and that we need to take our nature as semi-dependent creatures seriously as we seek ways of negotiating our way through our environmental problems.

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1 Kant Immanuel, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), ed. Wolff Robert Paul (Indianapolis, IN, and New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1969), 3233.

2 Ibid., 50.

3 Ibid., 67.

5 Ibid., 61.

6 Ibid., 63.

7 Ibid., 53.

8 Ibid., 64–65.

9 Ibid., 71; the bracketed insertion is mine.

10 Schneewind Jerome, “The Use of Autonomy in Ethical Theory,” in Heller Agnes et al. , eds., Reconstructing Individualism: Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1986), 69.

11 Mulhall Stephen, and Swift Adam, Liberals and Communitarians (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), 117.

12 Thomas Julia A., “The Cage of Nature: Modernity's History in Japan,” History and Theory 40, no. 1 (2001): 1637.

13 Ibid., 17.

14 Ibid., 16.

15 Ibid., 18.

16 Horkheimer Max and Adorno Theodor, Dialectic of Enlightenment (New York: Continuum, 2000), 54.

18 Harding Sandra, The Science Question in Feminism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1986), 171.

19 Phelan Shane, “Intimate Distance: The Dislocation of Nature in Modernity,” The Western Political Quarterly 45 (June 1992): 385.

20 Hegel Georg, Hegel's Philosophy of Right (New York and London: Oxford University Press, 1967) 90.

22 Plant Raymond, Modern Political Thought (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991), 347.

23 Nancy Chodorow, “Toward a Relational Individualism: The Mediation of Self Through Psychoanalysis,” in Heller et al., eds., Reconstructing Individualism, 197.

24 Ibid., 199 (my emphasis).

25 Zvesper John, Nature and Liberty (London and New York: Routledge, 1993), 116.

26 Benhabib Seyla, “The Generalized and the Concrete Other,” in Kittay Eva Feder and Meyers Diana T., Women and Moral Theory (Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1987), 166–67.

27 Bhaskar Roy, Philosophy and the Idea of Freedom (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991), 53.

28 MacIntyre Alasdair, Dependent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings Need the Virtues (Chicago: Open Court, 1999), ix.

29 Ibid., 10.

30 Ibid., 4.

31 Ibid., 5.

33 Ibid., 8.

36 Ibid., 81.

37 Ibid., 11 (emphasis in the original).

38 Ibid., 12.

39 Wolcher Louis E., “Nature and Freedom,” The Independent Review 9, no. 2 (2004): 263.

40 Ibid., 264.

42 Ibid., 266.

43 Wolcher is not so naïve as to think that we should never think of nature as resource: “No reasonable person doubts that human beings need natural resources in order to live and prosper.” Ibid., 266.

44 Bhaskar, Philosophy and the Idea of Freedom, 73.

45 Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, 61.

46 Wissenburg Marcel, Green Liberalism: The Free and the Green Society (London: UCL Press, 1998), 33.

48 Zvesper, Nature and Liberty, 4.

49 John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, ed. Laslett Peter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), Second Treatise, section 27.

50 Ibid., section 42.

51 McKibben Bill, The End of Nature (New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Auckland: Anchor Books, 1999), 5455.

52 Ibid., 46.

53 Locke, Second Treatise, section 33.

54 Ibid., section 49.

55 Ibid., section 31.

56 Ibid., section 46.

57 Ibid., section 47.

58 Ortega y Gasset José, Obras Completas (Madrid: Revista de Occidente, 1957), vol. 4, pp. 321–22.

59 Avineri Shlomo, The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968), 70.

60 Ibid., 71.

61 Sartre Jean-Paul, Critique of Dialectical Reason (London: New Left Books, 1976), 90.

62 Ibid., 122.

63 Ibid., 125.

65 Ibid., 180.

66 Ibid., 181.

67 Ibid., 122.

68 Ibid., 137.

69 Ibid., 829.

70 Ibid., 166.

71 Ibid., 184.

72 Ibid., 162.

73 Ibid., 223.

74 Ibid., 226–27.

75 Ibid., 222.

I am deeply indebted to conversations about this topic with Mike Hannis, doctoral candidate at Keele University, UK. His expertise in this area exceeds my own by far, and his doctoral thesis on “Freedom and Sustainability,” due to be submitted in 2010, will be a landmark contribution to the field.

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Social Philosophy and Policy
  • ISSN: 0265-0525
  • EISSN: 1471-6437
  • URL: /core/journals/social-philosophy-and-policy
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