Vollständiger Titel: Ecotopianism: Unearthing the Roots of Environmental Ethics
The aim of this paper is to re-connect environmental ethics with its utopian roots through my methodical conception of ecotopianism. According to this conception, ecotopianism is utopian thinking with regard to the relationship between human societies and their physical environment. In other words, ecotopian thinking imagines alternative social ecologies. Ecotopian thinking in an emphatic sense does so in search of new harmonies with nature. The connection from utopianism to environmental ethics is achieved, inter alia, through the design perspective: One of the central factors that shape the ecological interactions of a society is its value system. Therefore, to imagine a full-fledged ecological utopia, or ecotopia, in the emphatic sense, one also needs to develop a functionally adequate value system for the alternative social order – an (ecological) ethic. This train of thought, though not necessarily expressed in utopian language, is commonly presupposed by early texts of environmental ethics from the 1960s and 70s, embedding the budding philosophical subdiscipline in a larger programme of deep social reform. Subsequent professionalisation of the field, however, shifted the focus to theoretical issues in moral philosophy. To re-connect from environmental ethics back to utopianism, I exploit the utopian element in pragmatic ethics and the recent rise of pragmatism in environmental ethics. My resulting conception of pragmatic ecotopianism accesses value-based utopian thinking as a method in environmental ethics, offering an alternative mode of philosophical engagement with environmental issues. It also makes visible how utopian thinking, though largely unrecognised, pervades the contemporary environmental discourse.