Real Anthropocene Politics

Hailwood, SA ORCID: 0000-0001-5607-6467
(2018) Real Anthropocene Politics. In: Rethinking the Environment for the Anthropocene: Political Theory and Socionatural Relations in the New Geological Age. Routledge.

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This paper discusses parallels between the Anthropocene discourse and the realism v moralism debate in political theory. Central to realism is the claim that political philosophy should not be viewed simply as a form of ‘applied ethics’. Different versions of realism vary in plausibility but the central insight seems correct: politics is not well-understood as simple conformity to a prior, independently defined moral standpoint. This is something of a strawman however. When put too strongly realism overstates the dichotomy between morality and politics and the extent to which ‘moralists’ define moral standpoints independently of politics, and obscures the way ethics and politics may be intertwined without reducing to each other. The Anthropocene discourse also emphasises something true: the degree of human impact on the earth makes it impossible to view nonhuman nature as fully independent of humanity. But this can involve a strawman too: not all ‘traditional’ environmental thought and practice has that view of nature. Analogously to strong forms of political realism very strong forms of Anthropocene advocacy obscure the intertwining of humanity and nonhumanity. Yet such Anthropocene advocacy is also vulnerable to ‘realist’ critique of the ideological ramifications of its homogenising framework and recourse to strawmen.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anthropocene, Political Realism, Political Moralism, Ideology
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2017 08:39
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2020 07:23
DOI: 10.4324/9780203731895-9
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