Ecofeminism Environmental Ethics Term Paper


¶ … Death of Nature" and "The Power and the Promise of Ecological Feminism" This essay will provide a critical summary and response of the books "The Death of Nature" by Caroline Merchant and "The Power and the Promise of Ecological Feminism" by Karen Warren. The summary will summarize the main argument of each ecofeminism author. The response will argue the position that nature is defenseless matter and thus subject to human domination and that women and men should be viewed as complimentary of one another rather than oppositional.

The book "The Death of Nature" by Caroline Merchant seeks to explain the historic correlation between the supremacy of nature and women. Merchant asserts that the scientific revolution fashioned a society that perpetuates a mechanistic view of nature rather than an organic view of a feminine natural world that was in existence before the revolution. The former views nature as inert matter that is subject to human domination, while the latter view emphasizes mutual existence between the environment and human beings. (Armitage on Merchant's; Death of Nature)

Merchant argues that the organic view of nature was essential to the development of democratic societies. This argument is based on the premise that before the era of the scientific revolution the connection between women and nature spawned utopian thought which "envisioned an organic society characterized by communal sharing of goods, property and knowledge." (Armitage on Merchant's; Death of Nature)

Merchant also argues that the ideological combination of social and natural disorder created a modern society with attitudes toward witchcraft that demolished the organic view of nature. Merchant writes, "the disorder symbolized in the microcosm by the dissolution of the frame of nature and the uncivilized wilderness of the new world, in society by the witch who controlled the forces of nature and the women who overturned its order...heralded the death of the old order of nature."(Merchant)

In short Merchant contends that the organic...


She holds the belief that the mechanistic view of nature is consequential in that it views women and nature as inert matter, which need to be controlled and dominated. Merchant concludes that the only way to preserve a democratic society is to readapt the pre-modern organic view of a feminine natural world.
The Power and the Promise of Ecological Feminism" by Karen Warren argues that "the promise and power of ecological feminism is that it provides a distinctive framework both for reconceiving feminism and for developing an environmental ethic which takes seriously connections between the domination of women and the domination of nature." (Warren)

The book begins by explaining oppressive patriarchal conceptual frameworks and the effect that they have on the dominance of nature and women. Merchant writes, "When an oppressive conceptual framework is patriarchal, it explains, justifies, and maintains the subordination of women by men."(Warren) Warren explains that there are three characteristics of an oppressive conceptual framework; 1 Value-hierachal thinking which places greater value on what is perceived as greater rather than what is perceived as less; 2 Value dualisms which perceive that things are oppositional rather than complimentary; 3 and Logic of domination which asserts that subordination is justifiable. (Warren)

Warren asserts that the third characteristic of the oppressive conceptual framework is the most significant because, logic of domination is not just a logical structure. It also involves a substantive value system, since an ethical premise is needed to permit or sanction the "just" subordination of that which is subordinate. This justification typically is given on grounds of some alleged characteristic (e.g., rationality) which the dominant (e.g., men) have and the subordinate (e.g., women) lack." (Warren)

Warren argues that the logic of domination in the realm of ecofeminism asserts that humans have the capacity to radically…

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