This leads us to the problem that reality may be different from our perception and that the human perspective on it may become different over time.
We can draw some central ontological conclusions from discussions so far. First of all, the existence of a nonhuman reality should be fairly uncontroversial: anyone who accepts the theory of evolution must believe in a world before the birth of man.
The attempts of Latour and strong social constructivists to adopt the concept of nature as a concept of difference to our societies have failed, necessitating withdrawal movements and far-reaching modifications. Then there’s Sayer’s point: if we were to control the construction of reality, we’d never be wrong. However, that we are quite often wrong refutes such a view of reality as a purely cognitive phenomenon.
This leads us to the problem that reality may be different from our perception, and that the human perspective on it may become different over time. We are then confronted with philosophical difficulties in the context of the correspondence theory of truth, according to which a conviction is true if and only if it corresponds to reality. As Mackie explains, “The correspondence theory of truth behaves analogously to representative realism in the theory of perception, while we, at least in terms of truth, want a direct realism.” His proposed solution is modest: “To say that a statement is true, means to say that things are as the statement says “. The relevance of this proposal is that beliefs or statements now respond to a reality outside of them, to things as they are. If we accept this view, it means that we take reality as a truth-maker instead of justifying statements based on their current usefulness or their coherence with other statements.
By reflecting on reality, people are essentially concerned about their place in the world. This includes the existence and meaning of the non-human as well as the human relationship to it. We can therefore ask, “What significance, if any, does the conceptualization of a non-human world have for us humans?”
Environmental ethics has emphasized the importance of recognizing the meaning of a reality without people. This raises questions about our value attachments to the non-human world, such as in the argument of the last person. Does it make a difference to the last human on earth if he willfully destroys life, is that wrong? If the ecological economists answer yes to this
question, as I imply, they are calling for a change in the ethics, attitudes, values and evaluations of economics. On the other hand, e.g. Environmental and resource economists are theoretically determined to accept the preferences of the last person.
Therefore, I think that based on the preanalytical vision of ecological economists, there is much to be said to be oriented towards certain aspects of realism, empirical science, and the ethical significance of the non-human. Connections exist in a feminist and green world view, which – beyond purely instrumental reasons to realize human purposes – is concerned with
caring for and respecting nature.
Another problem is that of distinguishing between natural and social sciences or, less dichotomically, between different sciences moving from the natural to the social. For certain ecological economists, such as Tacconi, the rejection of logical empiricism in the case of the social sciences is a clear thing; in the case of science, however, its potential relevance is implicitly and enviously recognized, albeit with some reservations. Who is e.g. referring to post-normal science, normal science attaches importance, according to this literature, to having advanced human understanding and research driven by curiosity. This leads to the rejection of a strong constructivism – on condition, however, that the limited utility of normal
science is recognized for modern environmental problems and their specific characteristics such as uncertainty, high decision-making risks, and complexity.
The rejection of a naive objectivist position may tempt one to reject all empirical science. However, environmental research has a strong base in empirical sciences, as evidenced by the causal relationship between air pollution and human health. However, due to its bias in the diffusion of certain technologies and the increasing proximity of female researchers to
corporate interests, the role of scientific expertise has also been called into question. Instead of rejecting the empirical orientation of science per se, we need a more nuanced understanding of the role of critical-empirical research, including an acceptance of weak constructivism, strong uncertainty, and fallibility.