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The Sociology of Morality as Ecology of Mind

Justifications for Conservation and the International Law for the Protection of Birds in Europe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 July 2018

Stefan Bargheer
Affiliation:
UCLA [bargheer@soc.ucla.edu]
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Abstract

The article engages in a comparative analysis of efforts to pass international legislation for the conservation of wild birds in turn-of-the-century Europe. Obstacles to this project were not merely incompatible laws already existing in the involved countries, but the different ways of relating economic, moral, and aesthetic evaluations of wildlife to each other. Focusing on the stark differences between German and British approaches to the topic, the article shows how the way these categories were related to each other was a product of the involved practices shaping the experience of the natural environment. As a result of different practices, moral justifications in Britain were one form of argument among many others formulated by conservationists. The logic of discourse was cumulative, comprising of different arguments that were presented as compatible with each other. In Germany, by contrast, conservationists recognized the existence of a variety of arguments for conservation, yet emphasized the incommensurability of these arguments and commonly advanced only one argument as a valid justification. Taking the centrality of the experience of nature into account, the article argues for the expansion of the classical sociology of morality into an ecology of mind.

Résumé

L’article développe une analyse comparée des efforts pour adopter, au tournant du siècle en Europe, une législation internationale pour la conservation des oiseaux sauvages. Les obstacles à ce projet n’étaient pas tant des lois préexistantes incompatibles dans les pays concernés, que des manières différentes de lier des évaluations tant économique, morale qu’esthétique de la faune. Soulignant l’opposition entre les approches allemande et britannique, l’article fait du lien entre ces catégories le produit de pratiques contribuant à façonner l’expérience de l’environnement naturel. Dans le cas de la Grande Bretagne, les justifications morales n’étaient qu’un argument parmi beaucoup d’autres. La logique du discours des défenseurs de l’environnement se voulait cumulative, avec des arguments différents présentés comme compatibles les uns avec les autres. En Allemagne, en revanche, ces mêmes défenseurs ont souligné l’incommensurabilité de ces arguments et n’en ont généralement retenu qu’un seul comme justification valide. Prenant en compte la centralité de l’expérience de la nature dans la mise en forme de ces différentes justifications, l’article propose de transformer la sociologie de la morale en une véritable écologie de l’esprit.

Zusammenfassung

Die Studie vergleicht die Anstrengungen, die im Europa der Jahrhundertwende unternommen wurden, um die internationale Gesetzgebung zur Arterhaltung der Wildvögel einzuführen. Hinderlicher als die bereits bestehenden Gesetze der betroffenen Länder waren die verschiedenen Ansätze, die wirtschaftlichen, moralischen und ästhetischen Bewertungen der Tierwelt miteinander zu verbinden. Während einerseits die großen Unterschiede zwischen den dt. und engl. Vorgehensweisen unterstrichen werden, verdeutlicht der Beitrag andererseits, dass die Art und Weise wie diese Kategorien miteinander verbunden sind, ein Ergebnis der Praktiken ist, die Erfahrung der natürlichen Umfeld beeinflussen. Im Fall Großbritanniens stellten die moralischen Rechtfertigungen nur ein Argument unter vielen dar. Die Logik der Umweltschützer war kumulativ, wobei verschiedenartige Argumente als miteinander vereinbar dargestellt wurden. In Deutschland haben die gleichen Umweltschützer die Unüberbrückbarkeit dieser Argumente betont und nur eine einzige Begründung als gültig anerkannt. Aufbauend auf der zentralen Bedeutung der Naturerfahrung, die den verschiedenen Begründungen zugrunde liegen, ergeht hier der Vorschlag, die klassische moralsoziologie in eine Verstandesökologie umzuwandeln.

Type
On the Historical Sociology of Morality
Copyright
Copyright © A.E.S. 2018 

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