This seminar is part of the Ronin Institute Public Seminar Series, featuring our Research Scholars. We welcome members of the public, but please register ahead of time to get the meeting link.
Presenter: Martin Bohle
Summary: This essay is about less-than-satisfying circumstances, and imperfect solutions. To that end it presents some theory, experiences and examples for how to tackle ‘geoethical dilemmas’. Geosciences co-shape the human niche, that is, the planetary network of twinned natural and cultural landscapes. Bundled by global supply chains, humans restlessly alter it through engineering, production and consumption. In turn, human agents face counter-intuitive system-behaviour, irreversible path-dependency, and multi-facet values and interests, including ‘ethical dilemmas’.
Facing such premises, geoethics explores cultural substrates to nurture the skills of agents when facing suchlike ‘wicked’ system-features. Initially, geoethics was conceived for geoscientists, that is, their professional functions in various societal contexts. Subsequently, geoethics evolved into an epistemic, moral hybrid for citizens interacting with the Earth system. Geoethics amended by Kohlberg’s hierarchy of moral adequacy and Jonas’s imperative of responsibility results in a ‘geoethical rational’, namely, to act: ‘actor-centric, virtue-ethics focused, responsibility focused, knowledge-based, all-actor-inclusive, and universal-rights based’. Less-than-perfect guidance, such as the geoethical rational offers, can support agents to navigate the human niche, that is coping with ‘ethical dilemmas’.