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The Ideal of Nature

Debates about Biotechnology and the Environment

edited by Gregory E. Kaebnick

Publication Date
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Going back at least to the writings of John Stuart Mill and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, people have argued for and against maintaining a state of nature. Is there an inherent virtue in leaving alone a naturally occurring condition, or does the human species thrive when we find ways to improve our circumstances? This volume probes whether "nature" and "the natural" are capable of guiding moral deliberations in policy making.

Drawing on philosophy, religion, and political science, this book examines three questions central to debates over the idea of "nature" in human action. Conceptually, it asks...

Going back at least to the writings of John Stuart Mill and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, people have argued for and against maintaining a state of nature. Is there an inherent virtue in leaving alone a naturally occurring condition, or does the human species thrive when we find ways to improve our circumstances? This volume probes whether "nature" and "the natural" are capable of guiding moral deliberations in policy making.

Drawing on philosophy, religion, and political science, this book examines three questions central to debates over the idea of "nature" in human action. Conceptually, it asks what the term means, how it should be considered, and if it is, even in part, a social construct. From a moral perspective, the contributors question if being "natural" is itself of value or if its worth is only as a means to advance other morally acceptable ends. Politically, essays discuss whether appeals to nature can and should affect public policy and, if so, whether they are moral trump cards or should instead be fitted alongside or weighed against other concerns.

Achieving consensus on these questions has proven elusive and seems unattainable. This should not, however, be an obstacle to moving the debate forward. By bringing together disparate approaches to addressing these concepts, The Ideal of Nature suggests the possibility of intermediate positions that move beyond the usual full-throated defense and blanket dismissal found in much of the debate. Scholars of bioethics, environmental philosophy, religious studies, sociology, public policy, and political theory will find much merit in this book’s lively discussion.

Reviews

Reviews

Recommended.

The Ideal of Nature is a thought-provoking look at the multifaceted topics of biotechnology and the environment through an array of lenses that leave the reader feeling grounded and inspired to explore greater depths of bioethics while avoiding the pitfalls of becoming immersed in extremes.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
232
ISBN
9780801898884
Table of Contents

List of Contributors
Preface

Chapter 1. Disposing Nature or Disposing of It?: Reflections on the Instruction of Nature
Chapter 2. In Defense of Living Nature: Finding Common Ground in a Medieval

List of Contributors
Preface

Chapter 1. Disposing Nature or Disposing of It?: Reflections on the Instruction of Nature
Chapter 2. In Defense of Living Nature: Finding Common Ground in a Medieval Tradition
Chapter 3. Nature as Absence: The Logic of Nature and Culture in Social Contract Theory
Chapter 4. Human Nature without Theory
Chapter 5. Preserving the Distinction between Nature and Artifact
Chapter 6. Why "Nature" Has No Place in Environmental Philosophy
Chapter 7. The Appeal to Nature
Chapter 8. Thinking Like a Mountain: Nature, Wilderness, and the Virtue of Humility
Chapter 9. He Did It on Hot Dogs and Beer: Natural Excellence in Human Athletic Achievement
Chapter 10. Sport, Simulation, and EPO
Chapter 11. Commonsense Morality and the Idea of Nature: What We Can Learn from Thinking about "Therapy"
Chapter 12. Rawls, Sports, and Liberal Legitimacy
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Gregory E. Kaebnick, Ph.D.

Gregory E. Kaebnick is the editor of Hastings Center Report, a publication of The Hastings Center, and a coeditor of two books, Reprogenetics: Law, Policy, and Ethical Issues and Genetic Ties and the Family: The Impact of Paternity Testing on Parents and Children, both published by Johns Hopkins.