Geoscientists developed geoethics, an intra-disciplinary field of applied philosophical studies, during the last decade. Reaching beyond the sphere of professional geosciences, it led to professional, cultural, and philosophical approaches to handle the social-ecological structures of our planet ‘wherever human activities interact with the Earth system’. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 and considering geoscientists’ experiences dealing with disasters (related to hazards like tsunamis, floods, climate changes), this essay (1) explores the geoethical approach, (2) re-casts geoethics within western philosophical systems, such as the Kantian imperatives, Kohlberg scale of moral adequacy, Jonas’ imperative of responsibility, and (3) advances a ‘geoethical thesis’. The latter takes the form of a hypothesis of a much broader scope of geoethics than initially envisioned. That hypothesis appears by suspecting a relationship between the relative successes in the COVID-19 battle with the positioning of agents (individual, collective, institutional) into ethical frameworks. The turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic calls for the transfer of experiences between different disciplinary domains to further sustainable governance, hence generalizing the geoethical approach. It is emphasized that only when behaving as responsible and knowledgeable citizens then people of any trade (including [geo-]scientists) can transgress the boundaries of ordinary governance practices with legitimacy.
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