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Environmental Values

Phenomenology and Teleology: Hans Jonas's Philosophy of Life

Lewis Coyne

Environmental Values 26 (2017): 297-315. doi: 10.3197/096327117X14913285800670

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Although Hans Jonas's theory of responsibility has been influential on continental European environmental ethics, his philosophy of life, which seeks to rehabilitate a teleological account of living beings and describe their differing degrees of 'existential freedom', is less well-known. In this article, I reconstruct the stages of Jonas's phenomenological account and address the key criticisms levelled at it. I argue that although Jonas's theory is flawed by internal contradictions, these may be rectifiable, and, if so, his philosophy of life could also provide an ontological rationale for a biocentric ethic. I conclude that for these reasons his work deserves greater scholarly attention.


Life, phenomenology, organism, teleology, philosophical anthropology

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Editorial: Beyond the Anthropocene: Perspectives on Human-Nature Relations, Old and New. Marion Hourdequin

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