Developing Val Plumwood's Dialogical Ethical Ontology and its Consequences for a Place-Based Ethic

Document Type

Article - Merrimack Access Only

Publication Title

Ethics & the Environment

Publication Date

Fall 2009

Abstract/ Summary

This essay attempts to develop the foundations of what Val Plumwood calls a "dialogical ethical ontology." I defend Plumwood's analysis situating the conceptual roots of the environmental crisis in dualistic thinking, but disagree that a solution is arrived at in an intentional, teleological conception of nature. Rather than arguing for a substantial union of mind and nature, I argue that a relational ontology ought to be adopted. This analysis is carried out by examining three aspects of Plumwood's philosophy: the ascription of "mind-like properties" to nature, her taking nature to be autonomous on the basis of that ascription, and the claim that sensitivity to place is necessary to the development of ethical dispositions toward nature. I conclude by presenting how her ethical views might be adjusted to accommodate the transition from a substantial ontology to a relational one.