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1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
NEWS AND NOTES
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2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
FROM THE EDITOR: Environmental Ethics and the Culture War
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features
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Ben A. Minteer Biocentric Farming?: Liberty Hyde Bailey and Environmental Ethics
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Most environmental ethicists adhere to a standard intellectual history of the field, one that explains and justifies the dominant commitments to nonanthropocentrism, moral dualism, and wilderness/wildlife preservation. Yet this narrative—which finds strong support in the work of first generation environmental historians—is at best incomplete. It has tended to ignore those philosophical projects and thinkers in the American environmental tradition that challenge the received history and the established conceptual categories and arguments of environmental ethics. One such figure is the agrarian thinker, conservationist, and rural reformer, Liberty Hyde Bailey. A writer whose environmental philosophy combined biocentric attitudes toward nature with more humanistic concerns about intergenerational fairness and civic responsibility, Bailey remains an invisible figure in environmental ethics, despite his clear influence on the later work of such conservation luminaries as Aldo Leopold, Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, and others. We would benefit from a recovery of Bailey’s environmental philosophy, especially his articulation of a pluralistic ethical outlook defined by the melding of anthropocentric moral and civic concerns with biocentric commitments regarding the beauty and resilience of the properly cultivated landscape.
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Brian Treanor Narrative Environmental Virtue Ethics: Phronesis without a Phronimos
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It is increasingly clear that virtue ethics has an important role to play in environmental ethics. However, virtue ethics—which has always been characterized by a degree of ambiguity—is faced with substantial challenges in the contemporary “postmodern” cultural milieu. Among these challenges is the lure of relativism. Most virtue ethics depend upon some view of the good life; however, today there is no unambiguous, easily agreed-upon account of the good life. Rather, we are presented with a bewildering variety of conflicting accounts of the good life. Narrative—in particular Paul Ricoeur’s account of narrative identity—has much to contribute to virtue ethics, including resources that can help us respond to the chal­lenges presented by the postmodern context. Narrative constitutes an “ethical laboratory” by providing us with an “as if” experience through which we can try out various ethical alternatives. Two sorts of environmental narratives, working in concert, further help to limit relativist objections: (1) narratives of environmental survival (which identify dispositions, such as simplicity, necessary for our long-term survival) and (2) narratives of environmental flourishing (which make a virtue of necessity by pointing out those dispositions necessary for our survival often contribute to our flourishing beyond mere survival).
discussion papers
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Scott Friskics The Twofold Myth of Pristine Wilderness: Misreading the Wilderness Act in Terms of Purity
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In recent years, the notion of wilderness has been roundly criticized by several prominent environmental philosophers and historians. They argue that the “received wilderness idea” is dualistic, ethnocentric, and static. According to these critics, this idea of wilderness finds clear expression in the Wilderness Act of 1964. However, the idea of wilderness so ably deconstructed by its critics bears little resemblance to the understanding of wilderness presented in the Wilderness Act. The critics assume a backward-looking, purity-based definition of wilderness that runs counter to the forward-looking, relativistic interpretation of the Wilderness Act that has guided and informed subsequent wilderness legislation, management, and visitation. Under the Wilderness Act, wilderness designation is less a matter of preserving remnants of “pristine” nature than establishing a covenant between humans and a particular place. Wilderness areas, so conceived, serve as potential sabbath places, whose ultimate significance is best understood in terms of their mutually informing relationship to the places where we live and work. Rather than detracting from our efforts to inhabit the Earth in more creative and sustainable ways, wilderness represents a vital part of larger landscapes of human inhabitation characterized by a diverse mixture of human-nature relational patterns.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Karánn Durland The Prospects of a Viable Biocentric Egalitarianism
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At a minimum, a satisfactory biocentric egalitarianism must satisfy three constraints: (1) it must demand enough to deserve the name biocentric; (2) it must not require so much that it makes a worthwhile or at least a recognizably human life impossible; and (3) it must not be incoherent or internally inconsistent. Neither rule-based forms of biocentric egalitarianism nor virtue theory versions meet all three requirements. The rule-based accounts that Paul Taylor and James Sterba introduce contain serious defects, and many of these problems appear in any rule-based biocentric egalitarianism, making all such approaches untenable. The egalitarian virtue theories suggested by Albert Schweitzer, Kenneth Goodpaster, and Jason Kawall are too promissory to be useful or fully assessed, but an overlooked virtue-based account that Taylor defends is more detailed and fatally flawed. Since its difficulties appear in any fully developed virtue-ethic version of biocentric egalitarianism, virtue-based approaches fare no better than rule-based ones. Given the problems that both rule-based and virtue theory forms of biocentric egalitarianism face, the prospects for a viable biocentric egalitarianism are bleak.
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Ty Raterman An Environmentalist’s Lament on Predation
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That some animals need to prey on others in order to live is lamentable. While no one wants predators to die of starvation, a world in which no animal needed to prey on others would, in some meaningful sense, be a better world. Predation is lamentable for four primary reasons: (1) predation often inflicts pain on prey animals; (2) it often frustrates prey animals’ desires; (3) anything other than lamentation—which would include relishing predation as well as being indifferent to it—is in tension with sensitivity to many other forms of hardship and suffering; and (4) lamenting is demanded by the virtues of compassion and gentleness. One can lament predation even while acknowledging respects in which predation is genuinely praiseworthy. One can esteem admirable traits developed through and displayed in predation without esteeming the mechanism through which they are developed or the activity in which they are displayed. In addition, appreciating the check on population that predation provides does not preclude lamenting predation. While holding these positions does involve (in some sense) opposing nature itself and failing to appreciate predators for exactly what they are, doing so does not disqualify a person as an environmentalist. Finally, one can lament predation without being logically committed thereby to preventing or disrupting it.
book reviews
8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Melanie Perrault African American Environmental Thought: Foundations
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9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Robert Kirkman Ecological Politics and Democratic Theory: The Challenge to the Deliberative Ideal
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10. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Lloyd Steffen The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Ecology
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