ABSTRACT

This article connects three elements of Theodor Adorno’s critical theory and contemporary ecological feminism: the critique of a strict dualism between nature and human activity, the role of care in moral thinking, and considerations of “the animal” in ethical frameworks. First, the author unpacks Adorno’s critical concept of “natural-history,” Naturgeschichte, which gives philosophy a two-pronged task: to denaturalize history and to historicize nature. After the article demonstrates that complicating the dualism between nature and history has consequences for ontology and our sense of “what things are,” the author further suggests that the concept of natural-history critically modifies ethics and the terms concerning “what we ought to do.” By examining the critiques of rationalist moral approaches in the work of Adorno, Carol Gilligan, and Deborah Slicer, the article argues for an ethics of care that resists both the false naturalization of contingent history and the denigration of the nonhuman.

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