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1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 4
News and Notes
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features
2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 4
Tom Dedeurwaerdere, Benjamin Six Toward a Broadened Ethical Pluralism in Environmental Ethics: From Bryan Norton’s Discursive Ethics to William James’ Experiential Pluralism
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Recent work by Piers Stephens has established axiological pluralism as the common element between various strands of theorizing in environmental ethics. However, a tension still exists in contemporary theories between the need for practical convergence among the values through rational argumentation and the experience of the motivational power of the value orientations in living human experience. The pragmatist phenomenological foundation for a pluralist environmental ethics developed in the philosophy of William James is consistent with the contemporary theories, while potentially solving some of their tensions. In particular, the proposed approach of James adds a deeper layer of experiential values, which are not always considered in the public discursive practices and which often mobilize non‐scientific and not explicitly rational motivations and beliefs (including the environmental as well as the psychological, social, and cultural). In doing so, the phenomenological pragmatism of William James opens up an avenue for integrating experiential values into a broadened pluralist environmental ethics.
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 4
Lantz Fleming Miller Individual Responsibility for Environmental Degradation: The Moral and Practical Route to Change
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In environmental ethics a debate has arisen over the extent to which the individual should make changes in personal lifestyle in a long-term program of ameliorating environmental degradation, as opposed to directing energies toward public-policy change. In opposition are the facts that an individual’s contribution to environmental degradation can only have a negligible effect. Public policy offers the only real hope for such massive coordinated effort, and environmental degradation is only one of many global problems to which ethi­cally oriented people must focus their attentions and energies. So far, the pro-personal responsibility side has urged that personal lifestyle changes are necessary for moral coher­ence, thus in turn for integrity of character, and lifestyle changes can affect others in a kind of chain reaction because humans are socially submerged beings. The stalemate here can only stymies the needed coordinated effort toward ameliorating environmental degradation. Further, moral concerns need to be brought into this issue; namely, the ramifications of pursuing a policy-only approach, emphasizing policy as the sole (or even primary) means of ameliorating environmental degradation, implicitly undercuts the role of individual agents in morality in general, in terms of (1) individual responsibility, (2) autonomy, and (3) creativity in solving problems. All these problems not only bear on the program to reverse environmental degradation, but undermine other widely held moral values. Emphasizing personal lifestyle responsibility is not only the most moral alternative but is also the most assured way to affect long-term changes and the better way to make policy changes credible and sufficiently substantive for change.
discussion papers
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 4
Lawrence E. Cahoone Is Stellar Nucleosynthesis a Good Thing?
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Environmental ethicists typically find value in living things or their local environments: (1) anthropocentists insofar as they have value for human beings; (2) biocentrists in all organisms; and (3) ecocentrists in all ecosystems. But does the rest of nature have value? If so, is it merely as instrument or stage setting for life? A fanciful thought experiment focuses the point: is stellar nucleosynthesis a good thing? There are reasons to believe that it is intrinsically good, that even before life evolved, stellar nucleosynthesis was a good. If so, then the three views above are incomplete as accounts of natural value. It further implies that some non-biological criterion can serve as a rational standard of value: namely, complexity. The attempt to answer the question of the value of stellar nucleosynthesis leads to a clarification of the meaning of intrinsic value, which also has implications for more local questions of environmental values.
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 4
Vincent Blok Thinking the Earth: Critical Reflections on Quentin Meillassoux’s and Heidegger’s Concept of the Earth
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Quentin Meillassoux’s call for realism is a call for a new interest in the Earth as un-correlated being in philosophy. Unlike Meillassoux, Martin Heidegger has not been criticized for being a correlationist. To the contrary, his concept of the Earth has to be understood as un-correlated being, as it is opposed to the world as correlated being. First, this interpreta­tion of Heidegger’s concept of the Earth solves various problems of interpretation that are present in the secondary literature. Second, Heidegger’s characterization of the Earth in the end remains unthought in his work. Third, in the age of global warming Meillassoux’s call for realism can help to conceive planet Earth as the ontic-ontological origin of the Heideggerian strife between Earth and world.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 4
Brendan Mahoney Engaging the Sublime without Distance: Environmental Ethics and Aesthetic Experience
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Over the past decade or two, a number of scholars have proposed that the aesthetic experi­ence of the sublime offers a ground on which to build an environmental ethic. Among these scholars, Emily Brady has offered the most sustained and comprehensive analysis of this topic. Her position is firmly grounded in Kant’s aesthetic theory. She (and others) conclude that the experience of the sublime provides a robust aesthetic basis for an environmental ethic; however, Kant’s aesthetic theory presents difficulties for this position insofar as he claims that the experience of the sublime reveals the superiority of humans (via our morality and faculty of reason) over nature. One source of Kant’s anthropocentrism is his concept of “safe distance.” However, drawing on Arnold Berleant’s theory of aesthetic engagement and Thoreau’s account of the sublime in “Ktaadn,” an engaged—or de-distanced—experience of the sublime offers a more solid foundation for an aesthetically grounded environmental ethic.
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 4
Neall Pogue The Religious Right’s Compassionate Steward and Conservationist: The Lost Philosophies of Pat Robertson
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Current scholars use the anti-environmental rhetoric of Pat Robertson to argue that the politically important religious right movement, which he co-founded and led, has always ignored and/or opposed nature protection efforts. During the movement’s initial years, from the late 1970s to 1989, however, Robertson encouraged eco-friendly philosophies best described as conservation and Christian compassionate stewardship. He publically endorsed these views through publishing, speaking out at politically charged venues, and by ignoring religious right political allies who favored economic growth over environmental protection. During this early period, Robertson was not an anti-environmentalist but instead promoted thoughtful and nuanced eco-friendly philosophies. Furthermore, it is likely that the larger religious right community shared these views. This examination of Robertson’s eco-friendly positions lays a foundation for future scholarship on the religious right’s relationship with environmentalism.
book reviews
8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 4
Steven Fesmire Sustainable Values, Sustainable Change: A Guide to Environmental Decision Making
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9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 4
Bernard Daley Zaleha Religion and Sustainability: Social Movements and the Politics of the Environment
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10. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 4
Jeremy Bendik-Keymer Thinking like a Mall: Environmental Philosophy after the End of Nature
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11. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 4
Referees 2016
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12. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 4
Index for 2016
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13. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
News and Notes
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features
14. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Jame Schaefer Imprudence and Intergenerational Injustice: The Ongoing Vices of Opting for Nuclear Fueled Electricity
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Despite the U.S. government’s failure to isolate from the biosphere the highly radioactive spent fuel that has been accumulating at nuclear power plants for sixty years, some governmental officials, scientists, nuclear industrialists, and environmentalists are urging increased reliance on nuclear-generated electricity as part of the strategy to mitigate global warming. An ethical analysis of their proposal is warranted, and one promising approach is the theologically grounded process of making prudent decisions like those that Thomas Aquinas outlined and explained in the thirteenth century. Following his detailed method of discovering the facts, identifying a justifiable course of action, and commanding its implementation, it can be concluded that adding more nuclear capacity to our nation’s energy mix is imprudent and will produce intergenerational injustice until the isolation of the spent fuel at existing plants is underway and space is assured for the spent fuel removed from new nuclear reactors. The primary motivation for converting from the ongoing national vices of imprudence and intergenerational injustice to a nation characterized by the virtues of prudence and justice is love for others when expressed and demonstrated inclusively.
15. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Debra J. Erickson The Case for Casuistry in Environmental Ethics
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Casuistry, or case-based reasoning, should be used in environmental ethics. Casuistry came to prominence during the transition from medieval to modern, when historical circumstances challenged settled moral perspectives. Similarly, environmental ethics arose in response to real-life dilemmas that also challenged existing moral theories. Casuistry’s focus on cases means that it can resolve individual environmental dilemmas without needing to solve every other problem (theoretical or practical) in the field. It is a “taxonomic” form of moral reasoning that operates by analogy to paradigm cases, appeals to authorities in the field, and application of moral rules of thumb. Analogy to just-war reasoning and medical ethics and appeal to ecological reasoning yields four basic principles for environmental casuistry, justice, prudence, diversity, and a presumption toward preservation, and provides guidance in selecting paradigms and sources of authority within the field of environmental ethics.
discussion papers
16. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Kalpita Bhar Paul, Meera Baindur Leopold’s Land Ethic in the Sundarbans: A Phenomenological Approach
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Leopold’s land ethic is a watershed event in environmental ethics as it is the first one to provide an alternative conceptualization of land to transcend its “Abrahamic conception.” However, if Leopold had employed phenomenological methods to formulate his land ethic, then his conceptualization of land and the understanding of its relation with its dwellers could have been more nuanced. From an analysis of the Sundarbans islanders’ phenomenological accounts of land, collected during a field study, it can be shown that phenomenological understanding of land negates the Abrahamic notions of the Sundarbans’s land, which are deeply rooted in developmental as well as ecological conservation programs that the region is presently witnessing. As an alternative, such a phenomenological approach can enhance Leopold’s land ethic by providing an opportunity to see land in its true form, instead of conceptual­izing land “in order to” maintain the integrity of a land pyramid. In this manner, it helps to broaden the horizon of the land ethic and transforms the conceptualization of land itself.
17. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Samantha Clark Nothing Really Matters: Jean-Paul Sartre, Negation, and Nature
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Arguments set out by Timothy Morton, Ted Toadvine, and J. Baird Callicott et al. suggest that the remedy to the dualistic account that places “human” in binary opposition to “nature” is not to deny difference, but to understand the process of differentiation in a way that recognizes our interdependence, and yet still leaves space for the unknowable “Otherness” of nature. Callicott et al. argue that Aldo Leopold’s land ethic authentically recognizes the difference and freedom of wild animal Others, arguing that Levinas’ ethics of the Other is really a “same-based” ethics in disguise. Morton and Toadvine have considered ways in which another aspect of Levinas’ thought, the “il y a” (the “there is”), could be a means by which we might understand “wild” nature. A more metaphysical understanding of Levinas’ “face” recognizes the Other’s unknowability, but frames the ethical relation as external. Jean-Paul Sartre’s account of negation and human reality as “lack” frames this relation as one that arises internally, and thus can usefully inform the strand of environmental thought that is concerned with acknowledging the irreducible Otherness of nature.
18. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Mark Michael Environmental Pragmatism, Community Values, and the Problem of Reprehensible Implications
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Environmental pragmatists such as Bryan Norton and Ben Minteer argue that environmental philosophers should look to the values of real people and communities to determine which environmental policies and legislation should be put into place. But they want to avoid a kind of simplistic relativism, since that view entails all sorts of reprehensible conclusions about what is right and wrong and what is valuable, both generally and with respect to the environment. Their solution is to distinguish between the community’s surface or apparent values and its true values—the community’s true values serve as the basis for the moral appraisal and justification of policies and legislation, and they believe that these will neither endorse nor justify reprehensible principles or policies. The community’s true values, according to Norton, are those that survive a critical, deliberative process. However, there is no reason to think that the process described by Norton will yield normatively better values—values that do not have reprehensible implications. Even if the process described by Norton were to have this effect, he cannot consistently appeal to it, since it runs counter to his overall account of value as being nothing more than actual instances of real people caring about and valuing something. If value is a function of what people actually value here and now, then what people would value under conditions that are unlikely to occur is irrelevant to what is valuable and what can count as the true values of a community. Thus, Norton’s view, and environmental pragmatism, at least to the extent that Norton’s account is representative of that view, remains susceptible to the reprehensible implications problem.
19. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Ovadia Ezra Global Distributive Justice: An Environmental Perspective
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The environmental crisis in general, especially the problem of global warming, as well as the poverty and distress that a large part of the world experiences, demands a solution in terms of global distributive justice. This solution should focus on greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere throughout the world. If developed countries think that they have the right to do whatever they like with regard to the natural resources that are within their territories which then affect global greenhouse emissions, then developing countries should have the same right with regard to such emissions above their territories when they consequently make uninhibited and unrestrained use of their own resources. Rich countries that reject this idea have to accept the idea that they should share part of their wealth with poor countries when they ask them to engage in restrained development.
book reviews
20. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Andrea R. Gammon Emplotting Virtue: A Narrative Approach to Environmental Virtue Ethics
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