Can nature be evil, or ugly, or wrong? Can we apply moral value to nature?
From a compellingly original premise, under the auspices of major thinkers including Mary Midgley, Philip Hefner, Arnold Benz and Keith Ward, Is Nature Ever Evil? examines the value-structure of our cosmos and of the science that seeks to describe it. Science, says editor Willem B. Drees, claims to leave moral questions to aesthetic and religious theory. But the supposed neutrality of the scientific view masks a host of moral assumptions. How does an ethically transparent science arrive at concepts of a 'hostile' universe or a 'selfish' gene? How do botanists, zoologists, cosmologists and geologists respond to the beauty of the universe they study, reliant as it is upon catastrophe, savagery, power and extinction? Then there are various ways in which science seeks to alter and improve nature. What do prosthetics and gene technology, cyborgs and dairy cows say about our appreciation of nature itself? Surely science, in common with philosophy, magic and religion, can aid our understanding of evil in nature - whether as natural catasrophe, disease, predatory cruelty or mere cosmic indifference?
Focusing on the ethical evaluation of nature itself, Is Nature Ever Evil? re-ignites crucial questions of hope, responsibility, and possibility in nature.
Table of Contents
Willem B. Drees, This vale of tears-the best of all possible worlds? Part I NATURE, SCIENCE AND VALUE Willem B. Drees, Nature, science and value: Introduction to Part I 1. Mary Midgley, Criticizing the cosmos 2. Silvia Völker, Response to Midgley's 'Criticizing the cosmos' 3. Hans Radder, Midgley on science, nature, metaphysics and ethics: Some comments 4. Joachim Leilich, Mind and value: Reflections on Max Weber 5.Tatjana Visak, The moral relevance of naturalness 6. Angela Roothaan, The experience of nature: A hermeneutic approach 7. Peter Scheers, Human interpretation and animal excellence Part II: EVIL EVOLUTIONAY JUSTIFIED? Willem B. Drees, Evil evolutionary justified? Introduction to Part II 8. Holmes Rolston, III, Naturalizing and systematizing evil 9. Jacobus J. de Vries, Cooperation or competition-comments on Rolston 10. Jozef Keulartz, Rolston: A Contemporary physico-theologian 11. Jan Smit, Are catastrophes in nature ever evil? 12 Arthur Petersen, Contingency and risk: Comment on Smit 13. Fred Spier, Nature does not care indeed, but humans do: A commentary 14. Claudia Sanides-Kohlrausch, The Lisbon Earthquake, 1755: A discourse about the 'nature' of nature 15 Arnold Benz, Tradegy versus hope: A theological response 17. Neil A. Manson, Cosmic fine-tuning, 'many universe' theories and the goodness of life Part III IMPROVING NATURE VIA CULTURE AND TECHNOLOGY? John H. Brooke, Improvable nature? 19. Leo P. ten Kate, Victims of nature cry out 20. Henk. G. Geertsema, 'Improvable nature?' Some meta-historical reflections 21. Kris Dierick, Is nature neutral? The concept of health 22 Philip Hefner, Nature good and evil: A theological palette 23. Wessel Stoker, Nature Good and Evil: A theological evaluation 24. Eduardo R. Cruz, The quest for perfection: Insights from Paul Tillich 25. Mathew Illathuparampil, Normativity of nature: Natural law in a technological lifeworld 26 Anne Kull, Exploring technonature with cyborgs Part IV VALUES AS EXPLANATIONS OR VALUES EXPLAINED? 27.Keith Ward, Two forms of explanation 28 Martien E. Brikman, Two forms of explanation: A response to Ward 29 Ronald Meester, Two forms of explanation: A response to Ward 30. Edwin Koster, The evaluation of natural reality: A watertight case? 31. Lindon B. Eaves, 'Ought' in a world that just 'is' 32 Angela Roothaan, What values guide our oughts? 33. Tatjana Visak, The Normative relevance of disputes in primatology 34. Nico van Straalen, Jair Stein, Evolutionary views of the biological basis of religion 35. Mladen Turk, On pattern recognition, evolution, epistemology, religion and evil.
'... a meaningful discussion of the human situation at the dawn of the 21st century.'