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Sacred MountainsA Christian Ethical Approach to Mountaintop Removal$
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Andrew R. H. Thompson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780813165998

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813165998.001.0001

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Environmental Ethics and the Construction of Values

Environmental Ethics and the Construction of Values

(p.33) 2 Environmental Ethics and the Construction of Values
Sacred Mountains

Andrew R. H. Thompson

University Press of Kentucky

The theocentrism of H. Richard Niebuhr, especially his understanding of value, is uniquely helpful in addressing the problem of value construction and negotiation involved in the debate over MTR. The author first examines several alternative ethical perspectives and shows that, although they offer important insights, none is sufficiently attuned to its own methodological presuppositions to allow Appalachian intertextuality to “speak for itself.” The perspectives considered—ecofeminism, liberation theology, environmental justice, environmental pragmatism, and political ecology—are promising, in that they all seek, on some level, to understand and address the power of the social discourses that define an ostensibly environmental issue like MTR. After considering the strengths and weaknesses of each in relation to MTR and Appalachia in particular, the author turns more directly to the question of values to examine this inadequacy more clearly. He concludes that Niebuhr’s relational theory of value offers the most accurate and helpful foundation for an ethical approach to MTR, one that is capable of relativizing fundamental assumptions and thereby founding a thorough critique of the discourses that surround the issue.

Keywords:   ecofeminism, liberation theology, environmental pragmatism, environmental justice, political ecology, value

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