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[CCP & GAI Joint Workshop] Daoism Meets Environmental Ethics: Relational Virtue in Zhuangzi and Leopold

The Center for Comparative Philosophy & Global Asia Initiative Joint Reading Workshop

Daoism Meets Environmental Ethics: Relational Virtue in Zhuangzi and Leopold

Time: 1:30pm – 3:30 Thursday Feb 2nd

Location: West Duke 204

Main Speaker: Marion Hourdequin (Colorado College)

Marion is Associate Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Colorado College. She is the author of Environmental Ethics: From Theory to Practice (Bloomsbury, 2015) and editor of Restoring Layered Landscapes: History, Ecology, and Culture (Oxford, 2016).


Commentator: Ewan Kingston (Ph.D. Student, the Department of Philosophy, Duke University)

** The Center for Comparative Philosophy will provide a light lunch for the workshop. The room will open from 1:15pm for people to serve themselves and take a seat.

Abstract: This talk explores the concept of relational virtue and its relevance to environmental ethics through discussion of two texts: the Zhuangzi (a classical Daoist text) and Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac. I argue that both texts provide insights into the possibility of conceiving environmental virtue relationally, helping to overcome the dichotomy between “virtue centered” and “value centered” environmental ethics.  Leopold and Zhuangzi each emphasize engagement, receptivity, perspective-taking, and the capacity to overcome preconceptions as critical in guiding relations between humans and the broader world.  However, Zhuangzi – though not explicitly concerned with the “environment” or “conservation” – pushes further than Leopold in certain respects and provides key insights for ethics in a global context and a time of rapid environmental change.