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Geoethics, applied philosophies of geoSTEM

The geoSTEM disciplines (Geosciences, Erdwissenschaften, Sciences de la Terre) are relevant to Planet Earth's stewardship in times of anthropogenic global change. Research into ‘responsible geosciences’ recently led geoscientists to amalgamate insights into societal and geoscientific features of the World and Earth. The outcome is a set of geo-philosophical frameworks. As a particular philosophical framework, Geoethics emerged a decade ago as “research and reflection on the values which underpin appropriate behaviours and practices, wherever human activities interact with the Earth system” [1; p. 30].

Experiences show that ethically sound operational practices depend on environmental, social and cultural settings. The composite design of geo-philosophical frameworks enables context-depending practices, hence, a pluralism of socially rational ethical choices; favourable of ‘comparative justice’ [2].

Various epistemic-moral geo-philosophical frameworks (geoethics) can be assembled. For example, Kohlberg’s, Jonas’, and Bunge’s political philosophies about the level of cooperation of agents, the responsibility of agents of change, and the individual balance of agent’s well-being and duty, respectively, offer a geoethics that proposes a realist-materialist understanding of societal fabrics [3]. Consequently, geoethics are multiple, although based on a common epistemic foundation in geoSTEM expertise.

1.       Peppoloni S, Bilham N, Di Capua G (2019) Contemporary Geoethics Within the Geosciences. In: Exploring Geoethics. Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp 25–70

2.       Sen A (2010) The idea of Justice. Penguin Books, London, UK

3.       Bohle M, Marone E (2022) Phronesis at the Human-Earth Nexus: Managed Retreat. Front Polit Sci 4:1–13.


Martin Bohle1
1Ronin Institute, NJ, United States of America
GeoMinKöln 2022