Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’
advocates for an “ecological conversion” to the ideal of “integral ecology”. In so doing, it offers insights into different scales of moral attention, resonating with sophisticated thinking in scientific ecology and environmental ethics. From the encyclical, Christian ecological ethicists can learn about the importance of identifying spatial and temporal scales in moral terms and the usefulness of hierarchical levels that distinguish between local, community, and global concerns. However, the encyclical assumes some hierarchical relationships—among genders, among species, and with the divine—that it does not question. Scalar thinking is a key strength of Laudato Si’
and also a signal of the work it leaves undone regarding the constructedness and limitations of all hierarchical assumptions.
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