The Crisis in Global Ethics and the Future of Global Governance
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The Crisis in Global Ethics and the Future of Global Governance

Fulfilling the Promise of the Earth Charter

Edited by Peter Burdon, Klaus Bosselmann and Kirsten Engel

This thought-provoking book stimulates dialogue and action on the role of global ethics in the governance of individual societies and the international order. Such inquiry is imperative given the extraordinary challenges that face the world today. Leading figures in environmental ethics, philosophy and law approach questions surrounding global ethics and governance from a range of cultural and philosophical perspectives.
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Chapter 6: Rethinking global ethics in the Anthropocene

Peter D. Burdon


Section 1 of this chapter argues that the Anthropocene should be understood through the lens of Earth system science. It describes the Anthropocene as a ‘recent rupture in Earth History arising from the impact of human activity on the Earth System as a whole’. This statement carries important implications for the human condition; section 2 suggests that environmental thinking might recognize a limited form of anthropocentrism which acknowledges that human beings have become forces of nature. Section 3 considers the implications of the preceding analysis for the future of global ethics. It first argues that the increase in human power recognized by the Anthropocene cannot be appeased by a withdrawal into wilderness ethics or shallow commitments to legal rights. It goes on to suggest that our movements ought to push for deeper notions of egalitarian politics as expressed in notions of liberation, emancipation and power sharing.

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