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1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
News and Notes
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features
2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Dominic Welburn Rawlsian Environmental Stewardship and Intergenerational Justice
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Over what is now a period of several decades, green political theorists have attempted to reconcile the political philosophy of John Rawls with impending environmental crises. Despite numerous attempts, the general consensus among those receptive to the idea that Rawls’ notion of “justice as fairness” can indeed be extended to incorporate environmental concerns is that such a theory cannot extend beyond minimal, “light” green notions of environmental justice. However, a theory of Rawlsian environmental stewardship can not only allow for more ecocentric visions of environmental justice, but also complement the “freestanding” nature of his later, specifically political liberalism.
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
John Mizzoni Environmental Ethics: A Catholic View
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A substantial environmental ethic appears in the official teachings of the Catholic Church. The central driving force of this environmental ethic views human life and human dignity as the most sacred foundation, a tenet that appears in all of the Church’s ethical and social teachings. A Catholic environmental ethic can be situated among contemporary environmental ethics, specifically by examining Catholic environmental ethics along the axes of anthropocentrism and nonanthropocentrism by looking at Catholic social teaching, especially as it has been described by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. In their publications and speeches going back to 1987, they paid much attention to raising environmental awareness, and made continuous efforts to illustrate how an environmental ethic naturally fits within the Church’s ethical teachings. John Paul II illuminated the intimate connection between Catholic social teaching and environmental ethics, and Benedict XVI wove these themes together even more tightly.
discussion papers
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Yee Keong Choy Land Ethics from the Borneo Tropical Rain Forests in Sarawak, Malaysia: An Empirical and Conceptual Analysis
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The tropical rain-forest regions in Borneo Island have in place various tough environmental policies to manage the economic use of natural resources sustainably. Nevertheless, their biological landscapes are struggling against unprecedented ecological assault amid rapid industrial transformations which have involved massive and irreversible exploitation of land resources. The main reason behind this mismatch of sustainable resource management vis-à-vis unsustainable resource use is the failure on the part of the policy makers to act under the guidance of certain ethical virtues when attempting to translate environmental rhetoric in print to concrete actions in reality. Ethical engagement with nature is pivotal in helping to stimulate genuine efforts in environmental conservation. Field research in the Borneo tropical rain-forest state of Sarawak, Malaysia is able to identify and evaluate the distinctive environmental attitudes, values, and practices of the indigenous communities, and their implications on Sarawak’s sustainable land-resource use and to reinforce the importance of ethical leadership in addressing a myriad of today’s environmental challenges.
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Mark Bryant Budolfson Why the Standard Interpretation of Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic is Mistaken
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The standard interpretation of Aldo Leopold’s land ethic is that correct land management is whatever tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community, of which we humans are merely a small part. From this interpretation, it is a short step to interpreting Leopold as a sort of deep ecologist or radical environmentalist. However, this interpretation is based on a small number of quotations from Leopold taken out of context. Once these quota­tions are put into context, and once the broader context of Leopold’s mature writings and his actions as a land manager are taken into account, it becomes clear that he is much closer to being an enlightened anthropocentrist than he is to being anything like a radical environmentalist. When properly understood, Leopold’s land ethic recognizes that fundamental human interests must be treated with the highest possible respect, and it emphasizes the incredible challenge and need for modesty in identifying the correct tradeoffs between lesser human interests and the interests of the broader biotic community.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Kimberly S. Engels Bad Faith, Authenticity, and Responsibilities to Future Generations: A Sartrean Approach
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A Sartrean existentialist ethics of authenticity model can serve as an alternative to tradi­tional approaches to the issue of moral responsibilities to future generations. Traditional utilitarian and rights-based positions can fall short when addressing future-persons concern, both through technical problems and their failure to show our interconnectedness with other generations. Sartrean concepts of freedom, responsibility, and authenticity can offer an alternative approach which focuses on interpersonal adoption of the Other’s projects. There is bad faith present in the typical discussion about future generations. We need to rid ourselves of this bad faith in order to engage in authentic relationships with humans of the past, present, and future.
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
T. J. Kasperbauer Behaviorally Inadequate: A Situationist Critique of Environmental Virtues
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According to situationism in psychology, behavior is primarily influenced by external situational factors rather than internal traits or motivations such as virtues. Environmental ethicists wish to promote pro-environmental behaviors capable of providing adequate protection for the environment, but situationist critiques suggest that character traits, and environmental virtues, are not as behaviorally robust as is typically supposed. Their views present a dilemma. Because ethicists cannot rely on virtues to produce pro-environmental behaviors, the only real way of salvaging environmental virtue theory is to reject or at least minimize the requirement that environmental ethics must provide protection and assistance to the environment. Virtue theory is often favored by environmentalists precisely because it does matter what one's reasons are for acting, even if one's actions are ineffective at producing positive results. However, because endorsing behaviorally ineffective virtues, for whatever reason, entails that environmental ethicists are abandoning the goal of helping and protecting the environment, environmental ethicists should consider looking elsewhere than virtues and focus instead on the role of situations.
8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
James Yeates Whale Killers and Whale Rights: The Future of the International Regulation of Whaling
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The normative claims underlying international human rights have international law implica­tions in the context of cetaceans (whales, porpoises and dolphins). Legal, ethical, philosophical, and scientific elements can be brought together into a synthetic argument to determine appropriate criteria for affording “cetacean rights.” The ethical underpinning of human rights is a neo-Kantian conception of human dignity. Such dignity is ascribed to humans on account of their rationality, attributed according to certain sufficient criteria. The evidence appears sufficient to make it ethically and legally appropriate to consider a novel international instrument or an adaptation of the existing framework to afford cetaceans “whale rights.”
9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Referees 2014
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book reviews
10. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Chris Klassen Katharine Wilkinson: Between God and Green: How Evangelicals are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate Change
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11. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Ben A. Minteer Judith A. Layzer: Open For Business: Conservatives’ Opposition to Environmental Regulation
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12. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Index to Volume 36
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13. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
News and Notes
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features
14. 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.
15. 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
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.