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‘From Ethics to Ontology to the Anthropocene’ by Dr. Nora Ward

November 18, 2019 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


November 18, 2019
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


Tom Duddy Seminar Room
Philosophy Department Morrisroe House
Distillery Road,


Tsarina Doyle

Dr. Nora Ward (NUI, Galway) will present a paper. ‘From Ethics to Ontology to the Anthropocene’, as part of the seminar series of the Values and Identities research group on Monday 18th November.

About the speaker

Nora Ward is a lecturer in the philosophy department. She received her BA and MA from NUIG, and completed her Ph.D. in the University of North Texas. Her research is on environmental ethics, with a particular focus on environmental identity, ecofeminism and ecomodernism. She is also interested in public philosophy and the role and place of philosophical work outside the academy.


Christian Diehm writes that “the increasingly arcane debates about environmental ethics are, at base, debates about ontology.”1 The implication that the field of environmental ethics may be more appropriately understood as environmental ontology has a long history in environmental philosophy, with many thinkers stressing the primacy of ontology over ethics and asserting that a productive environmental ethic can only emerge as a direct consequence of a radically new conception of subjectivity. Yet, practical questions as to how a new ethic can emerge from a new ontology remain largely unanswered. In this talk, I look at the role of story as intermediary between ethics and ontology within environmental philosophy, with specific reference to the work of Irish philosopher, John Moriarty. I argue that Moriarty’s work uses particular narratives as a way to ground and contextualise subjectivity in its relation to place, serving as a possible point of connection between modes of being and modes of action. Finally, I briefly explore whether the Anthropocene is another possible example of such a grounding narrative, analysing, in particular, the role of ontological insecurity in orienting towards ethical action.