Attitudes towards the Environment, their Ethical Relevance and the Possibilities of their Transformation

Name: David Rozen

Supervisor: Ondrej Beran

Email: DavidRozen.cz@gmail.com

Dissertation Subject: Attitudes towards the Environment, their Ethical Relevance and the Possibilities of their Transformation

Dissertation Abstract:
The aim of my dissertation is to clarify our contemporary – seemingly paradoxical – situation that we know that many ecosystems are collapsing as a result of human activities, that their collapse will have significant negative consequences for human societies and, in many aspects, we also know how to improve their condition. Yet on both a political and personal level this environmental knowledge in most cases does not lead to significant environment-preserving behaviour. Our contemporary situation reveals – contrary to the common assumptions – that (1) the disruption of planetary ecosystems cannot be taken as a purely technical issue and that (2) our environmental behaviour is not primarily determined by our environmental knowledge. In order to understand (and perhaps change) our contemporary situation, we need to see it perspicuously in a relevant context – we need to go under the misleading technical surface of our environmental discussions and capture clearly with all significant connections what is determinative for our environmental behaviour.

As a starting point for this investigation, I use Wittgenstein’s term “attitude” – a basal, often unreflected way of relating to a given issue which defines the scope of our way of seeing connections in the world and therefore also of our behaviour – which I develop in relation to the environment and claim, that (3) our environmental behaviour is primarily determined through our “attitudes towards the environment”. My research is a loosely Wittgensteinian investigation of the problematics of the disruption of planetary ecosystems which manifests itselfin that I understand the above-mentioned problem as unclarity which needs to be dissolved: (4) our problem consists in that we do not see that what we in fact need to deal with are attitudes and that environmental issues are related to the overall framework of human lives and that hence they are primarily not technical, but philosophical and ultimately ethical issues. Therefore, I see my philosophical task in the clarification of our situation – (5) it is necessary to examine the constitution and functioning of our attitudes towards the environment in the context of other aspects of our lives with which they are related. It can be summarized that the aim of my dissertation is to ultimately cultivate our way of seeing connections in relation to the environment.