The concept of naturalness has largely disappeared from the academic discourse in general but also the particular field of environmental studies. This book is about naturalness in general – about why the idea of naturalness has been abandoned in modern academic discourse, why it is important to explicitly re-establish some meaning for the concept and what that meaning ought to be.
Arguing that naturalness can and should be understood in light of a dispositional ontology, the book offers a point of view where the gap between instrumental and ethical perspectives can be bridged. Reaching a new foundation for the concept of ‘naturalness’ and its viability will help raise and inform further discussions within environmental philosophy and issues occurring in the crossroads between science, technology and society.
This topical book will be of great interest to researchers and students in Environmental Studies, Environmental Philosophy, Science and Technology Studies, Conservation Studies as well as all those generally engaged in debates about the place of ‘man in nature’.
"With the merciless scale, intensity, and disruptive effects of human activities now recognised to be beyond understanding, and with restraint seemingly an increasingly distant dream, rethinking human relationships with nature has become an urgent task. Until this seminal philosophical work however, no scholar has provided the depth of sustained and informed ontological reflection which at last takes us to the heart of the problems we moderns have given ourselves. Working patiently through the key elements of a relational ontology, Noer Lie shows how modesty could emerge as an unproblematically normal, defining quality of modern culture, if we were to start from a more sensible place. His account of ontology builds in contingency, but without licensing any denial of responsibility. Moreover this affirmation of the foundational importance of relationality also help re-establish the relationship between human ethics, science and nature in a way that may solve problems within environmental ethics and philosophy of technology that have lain unresolved for decades. As if offering a means of resolving our human problems with nature were not a sufficient contribution, Noer Lie’s relational ontology also subtly offers to science an oblique way of escaping its long-standing and perhaps endemic problems with its own hubris." - Brian Wynne, Lancaster University, UK
"For me, the appeal of Lie’s argument is the idea that the dispositional history of an entity is a mark of its naturalness. As opposed to social constructivists who claim that nature only exists as a category of human social thought, Lie’s grounding of naturalness in an ontological reality offers a yardstick for measuring proper interventions and uses of the natural world. As opposed to scientific reductionists who claim that nature is infinitely malleable and manageable by our advanced technology, his ontology offers a reason to limit the pervasive reach of a ‘managerial ethos’." - Erik Katz
Part 1: Disputable Natures
2. "No Naturalness, Only Nature"
Part 2: A Positive Concept of Naturalness
4. Dispositions and Relational Realism
5. Rethinking Naturalness
6. Naturalness in Ecology, Wilderness Stewardship