Public Reason: Vol. 10, No. 2, 2018 & Vol. 11, No. 1, 2019
Moral Views of Nature: Normative Implications of Kant’s Critique of Judgment
Zachary Vereb

Kant has traditionally been viewed as an unhelpful resource for environmental concerns, despite his immensely influential moral and political philosophy. This paper shows that Kant’s Critique of Judgment can be a valuable resource for environmental ethics, with methodological implications for political action and environmental policy. I argue that Kant’s Analytic of the Beautiful and Critique of Teleological Judgment provide philosophical tools for valuing nature aside from interest and for developing forms of environmental protectionism. My approach differs from other Kantian accounts that discuss our moral relations to nonrational nature, since these usually rely on Kant’s limited statements about flora and fauna in his Lectures on Ethics, Metaphysics of Morals, and the Analytic of the Beautiful. Though we can defend indirect duties toward animals and beautiful plants, as these accounts convincingly show, they rarely engage with the possibility of us having moral views of ecosystems. Moral views of nature can be useful as methodological heuristics for mobilizing and instituting environmental policies regarding climate change such as biodiversity loss, and this paper will provide a defense of a Kantian moral view of nature from which subsequent climate-related actions can be motivated.

Key words: Kant, teleology, environment, Critique of Judgment.


Vereb, Zachary. 2019. Moral Views of Nature: Normative Implications of Kant’s Critique of Judgment.Public Reason 10 (2) - 11 (1): 127-142.