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The Moral Ideals of Care and Respect

A Hermeneutic Inquiry into Adolescents' Environmental Ethics and Moral Functioning


Almut Beringer

Philosophers are in the process of constructing an environmental ethics theory intended to govern human conduct toward nature. Relying on moral philosophy or ecological theory to generate normative principles, philosophers have failed to pay adequate attention to human psychology. To address the question of responsible relations with nature via insights and methods from moral psychology means to validate environmental ethics theory with real-life human functioning. It also means broadening the psychological study of morality to include nature. An interpretive analysis of the study participants' moral deliberations and experiences revealed the moral ideals of «care» and «respect.» These contrast with the moral ideal of «justice» which dominates environmental ethics discourse.
Contents: Environmental ethics - Moral philosophy - Moral psychology - Environmental psychology - Moral functioning - Human sciences - Hermeneutics - Care - Respect.