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1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
News and Notes
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features
2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Warren Bourgeois, Sustainable Development: A Useful Family of Concepts After All
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Oddities about the common usage of the phrase sustainable development can be explored with a view to finding a family of clear meanings for this widely used phrase. The most popular definition, authored by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), is really a framework for definitions that vary with context. In spite of its vagueness, this WCED definition gives rise to a definitional schema that can be used to clarify and categorize many of the definitions currently in use. Because the WCED family of concepts can be applied in practical ethics, it is not necessary to throw up our hands and dismiss sustainable development as chimerical in spite of the plethora of definitions one may find in current use.
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Bidisha Mallik, Science, Philosophy, and Policy on the Yamuna River of India
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The Yamuna, one of the sacred rivers of India, has been worshipped for centuries as a natural form of divinity. By contrast, the modern perspective is that the Yamuna is only a source of water and a means of conveying human and industrial wastes downstream. This modern per­spective relies upon anthropocentric values rising from utilitarian considerations while slight­ing deeper questions of ethical and religious values. The resulting policies are unsustainable from a scientific perspective and they disregard the cultural and religious values that might helpfully motivate human behavior with regard to the water and its use. As a consequence, the river is dangerously polluted. Given the religious significance of the river, such pollution entails a serious threat to India’s culture as well as to public health. Conservation on the river is therefore, a social, moral, and religious imperative. The rising threat to health and well-being has prompted government river clean up in which millions have been spent for building infrastructures to divert and treat sewage. However, it has had little impact on water quality. To restore the river, the connections between science and policy on one hand and religion and ecology on the other need to be better understood.
discussion papers
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Todd LeVasseur, Environmental Philosophy in a Post-Ice Cap North Polar World
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The planet Earth will not have permanent ice cover at its North Pole by as soon as the summer of 2016, and by 2030 at the latest. Given this planetary reality, insights from the field of traditional ecological knowledge can be applied to humanity on a global scale, such that a global resource crisis will be felt before there will be a large-scale change in global environmental ethics and values, and that such a crisis will most likely precipitate a change in industrialized anthropogenic, climate-altering human lifestyles. Therefore, environmental ethics in the future will be an ethics shaped by living on a planet without a northern ice cap, and a rapidly dwindling southern ice cap. To prepare us for this scenario, we should cultivate an “ethics of immediacy,” and we should foster this ethic in ecosteries, where ethics of adaptation and resiliency can be put into practice so as a species we can deal with an entirely novel planetary future.
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Yaël Schlick, Writing Wonder: Elizabeth Bishop’s Ethics of Perception
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Consideration of theories of art and perception by Victor Shklovsky, John Dewey, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty reveals an ethics of perception in the nature poems of Elizabeth Bishop. A close reading of “The Fish” and “The Moose” shows how Bishop undoes our habitual perception of nonhuman animals, communicates a sense of wonder with respect to the natural world, models a sensorially rich understanding of that world, and advocates its freedom from human ends.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Gregory M. Mikkelson, Colin A. Chapman, Individualistic Environmental Ethics: A Reductio ad Exstinctum?
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According to standard anthropocentric, zoocentric, and biocentric ethics, the intrinsic value of a species, ecosystem, or other ecological whole derives entirely from the well-being of the individual organisms that it contains. Ecocentrism, on the other hand, values the whole not only for the well-being of its parts, but also for certain other properties such as biological diversity and ecological integrity. This crucial difference gives ecocentrism alone enough moral force for a thorough critique of global biodiversity loss.
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Rachel Fredericks, Courage as an Environmental Virtue
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We should give courage a more significant place in our understanding of how familiar virtutes can and should be reshaped to capture what it is to be virtuous relative to the environment. Matthew Pianalto’s account of moral courage helps explain what a specifically environmental form of moral courage would look like. There are three benefits to be gained by recognizing courage as an environmental virtue: (1) it helps us to recognize the high stakes nature of much environmental activism and to act accordingly; (2) it can make environmental activism (or tolerance of it) more appealing to a broader audience by helping us dismantle stereotypes as­sociated with environmentalism, including sexist and homophobic ones; and (3) it aides in the de-militarization of the concept of courage.
8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Simon P. James, “Nothing Truly Wild is Unclean”: Muir, Misanthropy, and the Aesthetics of Dirt
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For John Muir, nothing truly wild is unclean. Dirtiness is the result of human influence. Muir’s view finds an echo in the works of those writers, such as Robinson Jeffers, who regard urban environments as wild places that have, over time, become increasingly polluted by human beings and their works. It is clear that such misanthropic views can be criticized on moral grounds; however, they deserve to be criticized on aesthetic grounds, too. To adapt the view of Yuriko Saito, they indicate a failure to appreciate the human world on its own terms.
book reviews
9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Melissa Clarke, Thinking like a Planet: The Land Ethic and the Earth Ethic by J. Baird Callicott
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10. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Geoff Ashton, Hinduism and Environmental Ethics: Law, Literature, and Philosophy by Christopher G. Framarin
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