Ecological complexity and the ethics of disorder

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Environmental Change and the World's Futures: Ecologies, ontologies and mythologies, 2016, pp. 48 - 62
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Decisions about the future, always involve ethics. Ethical decisions express our imagining of the way the world works and should work. The ideas of 'systemic complexity', unpredictability, flux and conflict which are found in ecological views of the world, undermine some traditional conceptions of Western ethics, which depend on ideas of ontological harmony, order, predictability and the ability to easily define situations as similar. The chapter argues that the ethical attitude of Albert Schweitzer ('reverence for life'), allows the recognition of these fundamental ecological factors of being, and recognises that ethical conflict, disagreement and risk of inadequacy is at the heart of ethics. This recognition stops ethics from becoming a set of actions directed at an ideal non-existent world, and is therefore more realistic and less harmful to human relations in, and with, the world and other life forms. It recognises difficulty, and what humans define as ‘disorder’, as inherent to ethics.
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