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Description - Is Nature Ever Evil? by Willem B. Drees

Moral names are often flung at nature: good, beautiful, cruel, kind. From Noah's Flood to Shakespeare's stage, from anthropomorphic magic to religious concepts of creation and redemption, nature has been praised as a totem of order and hope, or cursed for its harshness, disorder and indifference. Culture has long imputed ethical and moral purpose to nature, though in tangled and contradictory ways. But can we in absolute scientific seriousness call nature evil - or good? Is life a dog-eat-dog affair, where value-judgements have no place, or can we demand an nature that 'ought', rather than one that 'just is'? If nature is dangerous, or haphazard, or faulty, can we hold morally to blame? And what can science-a universal but strangely neutral way of looking at the world- say on this matter? From a compellingly original premise, under the auspices of major thinkers including Mary Midgley, Philip Hefner, Arnold Benz and Keith Ward, Is Nature Ever Evil? examines the value-structure of our cosmos and of the science that seeks to describe it. What moral strategies can science give for understanding the human experience of our world? Science, says editor Willem B. Drees, claims to leave moral questions to aesthetic and religious theory. It rarely considers the nature of nature: it does not ask about evil. But the supposed neutrality of a scientific view masks a host of moral assumptions. How does an ethically transparent science arrive at concepts of a hostile' universe or a 'selfish' gene? How do botanists, zoologists, cosmologists and geologists respond to the beauty and ferocity of the universe they study, reliant as it is upon catastrophe, savagery, power and extinction? Then there are various ways in which science seeks to alter and improve nature, medically and technologically-to redefine nature's remit down to the smallest cells of the living frame. What do prosthetics and gene technology, cyborgs and dairy cows say about our appreciation of nature itself? Surely science, in common with philosophy, magic and religion, can aid our understanding of evil in nature-whether as natural catastrophe, disease, predatory cruelty or mere cosmic indifference? * Willem B. Drees, this vale of tears-the best of all possible worlds? * Mary Midgley , criticizing the cosmos * Peter Scheers human interpretation and animal excellence * Fred Spiers nature does not care indeed, but humans do: A commentary * Arnold Benz tragedy versus hope * Anne Kull exploring technonature with cyborgs Is Nature Ever Evil? marks a fascinating contemporary return to a persistent cultural debate, considering the different ways in which reality is understood between the disciplines of ethics, religion and science. Focusing on the ethical evaluation of nature itself, it re-ignites the wider questions of hope, responsibility and possibility in nature that these conflicts of value imply.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780415290609
ISBN-10: 0415290600
Format: Hardback
(234mm x 156mm x 20mm)
Pages: 360
Imprint: Routledge
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Publish Date: 5-Dec-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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