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Environmental Ethics

Volume 9, Issue 3, Fall 1987

Anthony Weston
Pages 217-230
DOI: 10.5840/enviroethics1987933

Forms of Gaian Ethics

James Lovelock’s “Gaia hypothesis”-the suggestion that life on Earth functions in essential ways as one organism, as a single living entity-is extraordinarily suggestive for environmental philosophy. What exactly it suggests, however, is not yet so clear. Although many of Lovelock’s own ethical conclusions are rather distressing for environmental ethics, there are other possible approaches to the Gaia Hypothesis. Ethical philosophers might take Gaia to be analogous to a “person” and thus to have the same sorts of values that more familiar sorts of persons have. Deep ecologists might find in the Gaia hypothesis a means by which to transform and reunderstand our concrete experience of the world. This essay canvasses some of the strengths, weaknesses, and possibilities of each approach.

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