Chapter 2: Evolutionary Foundations for Sustainability and Environmental Ethics
Chapter 2 Evolutionary Foundations for Sustainability and Environmental Ethics – Some Reflections on the Origin of Goodness and the Future of Environmental Education Marina Prieto Afonso Lencastre Abstract The biological origin of goodness is discussed in relation to the evolution of kin selection and cooperation. Genetic and reciprocal altruism are appreciated, consi- dering the social consequences of empathy and the theory of mind, in primates. Benevolent feelings in parental animals are presented as the precursors of love and goodness in humans. In a globalized world, the ethological and psychological con- ditions for the experience of goodness in expanded contexts are discussed. Signified by language, goodness and compassion are vital both in defining environment ethical principles and in education for environmental values and sustainability. Introduction Modern-day environmental problems call for urgent political and institutional changes. Just as important as these structural changes is the will of individuals to act in favour of the natural world under threat: endangered species, the deplorable conditions in which animals are kept for human consumption or entertainment, threatened ecosystems, polluted water and air, the stress of over-consumption, global warming etc., all of these phenomena awake in us moral feelings concerning the fragile state of the natural world. This sentiment often comes hand in hand with a feeling of impotence when we are confronted with the magnitude of the problems involved. Nonetheless, the evidence of a link between the environment and individuals has never been clearer, and never has it been more important for each of us to...
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