CFP: The Ethics of Nature – The Nature of Ethics


Saturday, 16th May 2015

The question of ethics has been central to philosophical and theological traditions throughout history, and as time moves forward, investigations into ethics in the context of the relationship between humanity and nature have become more complex, taking account of advancements in the natural sciences and a growing appreciation of nature. How are we to understand our relationship with nature, and how does this have implications for our understandings of ethics? The links between nature and ethics appears prominently in the Judeo-Christian tradition, for example: the symbolism of the tree of knowledge in Genesis may be interpreted as a realisation that there may be right and wrong way to toil the earth. Are we now realising the repercussions of our failure to take note of this forewarning in our experience of climate change?

In John’s prologue, the logos was in the beginning, which could suggest an abstract, objective moral code in nature. If so, how do we gain access to this code of ethics? Is it only accessible through revelation, as in some religious traditions, or is this code of ethics more generally accessible to humanity? Indeed, does such an abstract notion of ethics exist; could it be that ethics are a natural and subjective development? Is ethics a feature of nature, or have we invented it? This one-day conference seeks to explore these questions which emerge from considering the relationship between nature and ethics. This is not a conference engaged in considering normative ethical systems per se. Rather, it will take a broader approach exploring the nature (understood as essence or character) of ethics itself and whether nature (understood as natural world) has imbedded in it, a moral code.

Plenary Speakers:

  • Prof. Robert Stern, University of Sheffield – ‘Løgstrup, Ethics, and the Sovereign Expressions of Life’
  • Prof. Alison Stone, Lancaster University – ‘Hegel, Nature, and Ethics’
  • Dr. Christopher Southgate, University of Exeter


We invite interested parties to submit abstracts of 250 words for 10-15 minute short papers on themes related to that of the conference, including but not limited to:

  • Natural Law traditions and nature
  • The universality of ethics
  • Religious traditions and ethics
  • The accessibility of ethics
  • Naturalistic perspectives on ethics
  • Secular and religious views on the nature of ethics
  • The origins of ethics
  • Thinking ethically about nature

Send abstracts to for review by 31st January 2015.

Download a flyer for the event here [PDF].



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(Sculpture by Sara Cunningham-Bell)

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