Criticism of nature/culture distinction


We are mistakenly locked into a pre-Darwinian worldview; For Darwin taught us that man is part of nature

Darwin himself accepted a nature/culture distinction (between natural selection and artificial selection)

We are treating humans as separate from nature

Humans are separate in some ways (N2) not in others (N1); Humans evolved from nature like everything else in nature (embraces philosophical naturalism). But humans activities are culturally informed far beyond anything else in nature; what humans do and are like is importantly a product of culture

Treating humans as superior to nature

That humans are distinct from nature (N2) in some ways does not make us superior to it; Some environmentalists who make this distinction claim nature is superior to humans!

Rejecting philosophical naturalism

Philosophical naturalism is perfectly compatible with a nature/culture distinction

Contributing to environmental destruction; Important to realize humans part of nature to overcome the tradition which identifies humans as something separate from nature and gives humans dominion over it; We need to see ourselves as thoroughly embedded in nature–a part of nature–not set apart–if we are to solve env. problems (polluted air/water/land affects us too); It is anthropocentric to separate humans (or human culture) from nature; Doing so says we are special and different from the rest of the world; This view is a primary cause of ecological crisis and we must recognize humans as part of nature to overcome this crisis

The nature/culture distinction, far from causing environmental problems, is important for environmental protection; It helps us identify the things environmentalists want to protect; Environmentalists do place value on the natural (N2); Moriarty gives examples where denying that human activities are separate from nature has been used to degrade nature; Cumberland Island example: Support building a road into a wilderness, for the roads are no less natural than the wilderness