New Philosophy

Environmental Philosophy

What religious issues are involved in environmental thought, pro and con?

Some of the critical perspective derives from a Christian view imbedded in Western political philosophy that God gave the earth and everything on it to humankind to rule over for our use; only humans have the spark of divinity that justifies intrinsic value. Nonetheless, many religious groups have proclaimed an obligation of benevolent stewardship over parts of the earth. But, insofar as part of this stewardship is for the sake of future generations, a perplexing question arises: How can we have obligations to those who do not exist? Robert Heilbroner (1919–2005) has examined this issue in “What Has Posterity Ever Done for Me?,” a widely quoted and reprinted 1975 essay that first appeared in New York Magazine.


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