CFP: For a thematic issue: Lifeworld and individual experience as sources of normativity in environmental and climate ethics (ZEMO – Journal for Ethics and Moral Philosophy)

Submission deadline: September 30, 2022

Topic areas


Thematic issue’s guest editors: Kira Meyer (Kiel), Johannes Müller-Salo (Hannover)

Planned publication of the issue: vol. 1/23, summer 2023.

Many environmental ethicists think that individual experience in and with the (natural) environment deserves theoretical as well as practical attention: Personal experience of nature can enable people to understand themselves as corporeal beings and, therefore, as a part of nature not only theoretically, but also practically (Böhme 1992, 2003, 2019). The experience of natural environments can enable transformations of existing values and preferences (Norton 1987). Moreover, such experience is aesthetically enriching and forms part of the good life of individuals (Rosa 2014, Ott 2016, Krebs et al. 2021). Furthermore, the personal experience of nature can become a source of awareness of environmental problems and motivate the commitment to conservation.

But how exactly are these individual experiences in and encounters with the natural environment to be analyzed? How can they be described with reference to current debates in normative ethics about the character of moral experience, moral perception, and moral feelings? What theoretical value can be attached to individual experience within the framework of climate ethics, which, unlike environmental ethics, focuses mostly on abstract quantities such as the amount of CO2 emissions, or on general principles such as justice or non-maleficence? Finally, to what extent can individual experiences, their description and medial representation be used in political and social debates about goals, values and strategies of environmental and climate protection?

This thematic issue aims at building systematic bridges between mostly unconnected discussions in climate and environmental ethics, general moral theory, (eco-)phenomenology, environmental aesthetics, and the political philosophy of climate and environmental protection. Submitted papers may explore, among others, the following questions:

·       How can individual experiences the natural environment be described adequately? Are they cases of moral, at least morally relevant, perception and a possible source of moral intuitions (e.g. Audi 2013)? Can they only be understood against the background of their embeddedness in contexts of the lifeworld (e.g. Siep 2020, ch. 2)?

·       To what extent should the individual experience of nature be understood as an experience of one's own naturalness, that is, of the experienced belonging to nature as a corporeal being?  (Böhme 1992, 2002, 2019, Thomas 1996)? What normative implications do such (ecophenomenological) approaches of the lived body entail?

·       Does "appropriate" individual experience of nature and the environment have to be based on a certain knowledge or know-how? Does morally relevant experience of natural environments presuppose scientific knowledge (e.g. Carlson 2009, chapters 2 and 3) or knowledge about cultural, religious and historical meanings of the respective place (e.g. Saito 1998)? Or are art and literature instructive for the individual experience of nature (currently, for example, Krebs et al. 2021)? What is the relationship between different approaches to nature, such as the phenomenological and the (natural) scientific?

·       When and why can individual experiences of nature be understood as aesthetic experiences with morally relevant implications? Is the idea of "transaesthetic" (Ott 2013) experiences in which 'more' than just the beauty of nature is perceived fruitful? Can the individually experienced beauty of nature serve as a basis for environmental and climate ethical theorizing, for instance in terms of an "aesthetic ecocentrism" (Krebs et al. 2021) or an aesthetics of nature as an ethics of the good life (Seel 1991)?

·       What role do moral feelings (cf., for example, Cowie, Döring, and Tappolet in Goldie 2010), such as the "love for beautiful nature" (Meyer 2003, ch. 7), play in individual environmental experience?

·       Can individual experiences of nature lead to an environmental virtue ethics (e.g., Cafaro & Sandler 2005, Hannis 2016)? With regard to which virtues are aesthetical experiences of nature helpful?

·       What significance can personal environmental experience have within climate ethics? Can it be a key to solving the climate ethics motivation problem (Birnbacher 2009)? (How) is a phenomenological approach to climate possible? To what extent do experiences relevant for climate issues depend on imaginaries or conceptions of a landscape radically changed through climate change? What contribution do climate sciences as well as art, films and other media make to enabling such imaginaries (such as climate fiction and climate apocalyptic films)?

·       How can individual environmental experiences be made intersubjectively accessible and thus used in political debates? Through narratives of individual experiences (e.g. descriptive aesthetics, for instance Berleant 1992, ch. 3 u. 4), or rather through their artistic treatment?

·       Can the political relevance of personal experiences of nature be defended against critiques of the following kind?: "Individual experience is necessarily subjective and thus not a basis for environmental and climate policy, which must be based on hard facts such as Red Lists or CO2 measurements."

Submissions should be send to the two guest editors (see e-mail addresses below). Submitted articles will undergo a double-blind peer review process. There is no maximum or minimum amount of words for manuscripts submitted to ZEMO. Contributions can be submitted in English or German. For more information regarding manuscript guidelines and formal aspects please see ZEMO’s website:

If you intend to submit a paper, we would welcome a short expression of interest by the end of July 2022.

We are looking forward to your contributions! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us:

Kira Meyer (kirameyer[at]

Johannes Müller-Salo (johannes.mueller-salo[at]


Audi, Robert (2013): Moral Perception. Princeton 2013.

Berleant, Arnold (1992): The Aesthetics of Environment. Philadelphia.

Birnbacher, Dieter (2009): What Motivates Us to Care for the (Distant) Future? In: Intergenerational Justice, ed. by Axel Gosseries and Lukas H. Meyer. Oxford, 273–300.

Böhme, Gernot (1992): Natürlich Natur. Über Natur im Zeitalter ihrer technischen Reproduzierbarkeit. Frankfurt am Main.

-       (2002): Die Natur vor uns. Naturphilosophie in pragmatischer Hinsicht. Zug.

-       (2019): Leib: Die Natur, die wir selbst sind. Berlin.

Cafaro, Philip / Sandler, Ronald (eds., 2005): Environmental Virtue Ethics. Lanham.

Carlson, Allen (2009): Nature and Landscape. An Introduction to Environmental Aesthetics. New York.

Goldie, Peter (Hg., 2010): The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Emotion. Oxford.

Hannis, Mike (2017): Freedom and Environment: Autonomy, Human Flourishing and the Political Philosophy of Sustainability. Abingdon/New York.

Krebs, Angelika et al. (2021): Das Weltbild der Igel. Naturethik einmal anders. Basel.

Meyer, Kirsten (2003): Der Wert der Natur. Begründungsvielfalt im Naturschutz. Paderborn.

Norton, Bryan G. (1987): Why Preserve Natural Variety? Princeton.

Ott, Konrad (2013): Beyond Beauty. In: Aesth/Ethics in Environmental Change. Hiking Through the Arts, Ecology, Religions and Ethics of the Environment, ed. by. Sigurd Bergmann, Irmgard Blindow, and Konrad Ott. Wien, 25–38.

-       (2016): On the Meaning of Eudemonic Arguments for a Deep Anthropocentric Environmental Ethics. In: New German Critique (128), 105–126.

Rosa, Hartmut (2014): Die Natur als Resonanzraum und als Quelle starker Wertungen. In: Welche Natur brauchen wir? Analyse einer anthropologischen Grundproblematik des 21. Jahrhunderts, ed. by Thomas Kirchhoff and Gerald Hartung. Freiburg, 123–144.

Saito, Yuriko (1998): Appreciating Nature on its own Terms. In: Environmental Ethics (20), 135–149.

Seel, Martin (1991): Eine Ästhetik der Natur. Frankfurt am Main.

Siep, Ludwig (2020): Technisierung der Natur – Historisierung der Moral. Ziele und Grenzen. Paderborn.

Thomas, Philipp (1996): Selbst-Natur-sein: Leibphänomenologie als Naturphilosophie. Berlin.

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#phenomenology, #climate ethics, #environmental ethics, #ecophenomenology