Ethics in the Anthropocene: A (new) Critical Theory Perspective

Professor Maeve Cooke, University College Dublin
Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 15:00 to 17:00
Physics Hall


Critical Social Theories seek radically to change existing social reality in ways that enable freedom, happiness, justice or some other good. In this sense, they are ethical enterprises. Implicitly or explicitly, their critical perspectives on existing society, and their imaginative projections of alternative, better social conditions, are framed by a set of ethical presuppositions, expectations and aspirations. My concern in this paper is to outline an ethical frame for contemporary critical theories in their efforts to respond appropriately to the most serious challenges facing humans today. Chief among these is rapid anthropogenic climate change, specifically the imminent destruction of the life-generating and life-sustaining ecosystems that constitute the planet Earth, due to collective human activity over several hundred years. Drawing on the resources of Frankfurt School Critical Theory, I propose an ethically non-anthropocentric ethical perspective as the frame most appropriate for critical thinking and action in the Anthropocene, the name for the new geological epoch that humans have apparently entered.

Speaker: Professor Maeve Cooke, School of Philosophy, University College Dublin. For more information please follow this link: