Psychedelics and environmental virtues

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The urgent need for solutions to critical environmental challenges is well attested, but often environmental problems are understood as fundamentally collective action problems. However, to solve these problems, there is also a need to change individual behavior. Hence, there is a pressing need to inculcate in individuals the environmental virtues–virtues of character that relate to our environmental place in the world. We propose a way of meeting this need, by the judicious, safe, and controlled administration of “classic” psychedelic drugs as a form of moral bio-enhancement. Recent evidence shows that psychedelics can be given safely in controlled environments, and can induce vivid experiences of unity and connectedness. These experiences, in turn, can durably increase feelings of nature-relatedness and pro-environmental behaviors. Therefore, we argue that responsible psychedelic use can reliably catalyze the development of a key environmental virtue known as living in place. This is a “master environmental virtue” that subsumes the qualities of respect for nature, proper humility, and aesthetic wonder and awe. Our account advances the environmental virtues debate by introducing a relevant practical proposal, and advances the psychedelic moral enhancement debate by providing a much-needed conceptual framework.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Mar 2022


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