Silence is also a message. It is also an opinion. This work attempts to voice a particular silence: the silence of others in ecological ethics.
Concentric ecological ethics – a project known as the widening of the moral circle – is spellbound by the problem that it upholds a dualistic ontology with humans in the center, and a so-called ‘environment’ in the periphery. This sweeping move perpetuates not only moral distinctions. It also continues to silence all those others with whom we inhabit the one world. This work offers an alternative to this project. It explores the possibility of a critical collaboration between a number of unifying holistic positions. These include holism proper, Ecosophy T, and multicentrism.A core argument of the thesis is this: It matters how we speak. A closer look at a number of common speaking practices reveals that others are not only being silenced in concentric ethics. They are also, more generally, being silenced through acts of defining. Such definitions isolate those who are defining from those who are being defined. They frustrate creative relationships that may spawn relevant meaning.Acts of defining are not only limited to the way we speak. A third section exposes how whales are being defined by a conventional whale watching tourism industry off Lofoten islands, Northern Norway.The argument this thesis works towards is that direct experience may help us not only to address the problem more clearly, but also to move beyond it. The final section offers phenomenology of perception as that school of thought which most successfully demystifies the old ontological boundaries, and points to new paths to go instead.
Key Words:ecological ethics – holism – multicentrism – phenomenology – definition – language – relational language – killer whales – experience – horizon – place