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EcospiritReligions and Philosophies for the Earth$
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Laurel Kearns and Catherine Keller

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780823227457

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823227457.001.0001

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Talking the Walk: A Practice-Based Environmental Ethic as Grounds for Hope

Talking the Walk: A Practice-Based Environmental Ethic as Grounds for Hope

(p.45) Talking the Walk: A Practice-Based Environmental Ethic as Grounds for Hope

Anna L. Peterson

Fordham University Press

There is strong evidence in favor of two apparently contradictory truths. First, most people want a clean and safe environment, with abundant habitat for nonhuman species and wild places in addition to livable human settlements. Second, this valuation of the natural world is not always, and maybe not usually, reflected in people's personal consumption practices or political choices. There seems to be, in other words, little if any causal relationship between environmental value orientations, awareness, and concern, on the one hand, and behavior, on the other. This chapter explores these questions, from the perspective of a social ethicist interested in the ways that values translate into action and as an environmentalist concerned with the gap between our theories (our “talk”) and our practices (our “walk”). The challenge of understanding and addressing the gap between ideas and action requires the contributions of ecological theologians and ethicists, just as it challenges them to reflect and act differently. While the gap will probably never be closed entirely, it must be acknowledged that today the divide between the value we say we place on nonhuman nature and the way we act threatens the survival of nonhuman and human worlds alike.

Keywords:   nature, environmental ethics, environmental practice, environmental philosophy, ecological theology

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