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news and notes
1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
NEWS AND NOTES
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from the editor
2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
After Fifteen Years
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features
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
Tom Cheetham The Forms of Life: Complexity, History, and Actuality
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A fundamental misapprehension of the nature of our being in the world underlies the general inhumanity and incoherence of modern culture. The belief that abstraction as a mode of knowing can be universalized to provide a rational ground for all human knowledge and action is a pernicious and unacknowledged background to several modern diseases. Illustrative of these maladies is the seeming dichotomy between the aesthetic and the analytic approaches to nature. One critical arena in which the incoherences of our current understandings of our place in nature come to light is in the battle over the environment. I argue that a more adequate conceptualization of our place in the natural world can be erected if the central metaphors for our understanding are grounded in notions derived from the sciences of life. The key concepts must include contingency, historicity, evolution, organism, and imaginative interaction with concrete reality in individual human beings
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
Thomas H. Birch Moral Considerability and Universal Consideration
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One of the central, abiding, and unresolved questions in environmental ethics has focused on the criterion for moral considerability or practical respect. In this essay, I call that question itself into question and argue that the search for this criterion should be abandoned because (1) it presupposes the ethical legitimacy of the Western project of planetary domination, (2) the philosophical methods that are andshould be used to address the question properly involve giving consideration in a root sense to everything, (3) the history of the question suggests that it must be kept open, and (4) our deontic experience, the original source of ethical obligations, requires approaching all others, of all sorts, with a mindfulness that is clean of any a priori criterion of respect and positive value. The good work that has been doneon the question should be reconceived as having established rules for the normal, daily consideration of various kinds of others. Giving consideration in the root sense should be separated from giving high regard or positive value to what is considered. Overall, in this essay I argue that universal consideration—giving attention to others of all sorts, with the goal of ascertaining what, if any, direct ethical obligations arise from relating with them—should be adopted as one of the central constitutive principles of practical reasonableness.
discussion papers
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
Keekok Lee Instrumentalism and the Last Person Argument
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The last person, or people, argument (LPA) is often assumed to be a potent weapon against a purely instrumental attitude toward nature, for it is said to imply the permissible destruction of nature under certain circumstances. I distinguish between three types of instrumentalism—strong instrumentalism (I) and two forms of weak instrumentalism: (IIa), which includes the psychological and aesthetic use ofnature, and (IIb), which focuses on the public service use of nature—and examine them in terms of two scenarios, the après moi, le déluge and the “ultimate humanization of nature” scenarios. With regard to the first, I show that LPA is irrelevant to all the three versions of instrumentalism. With regard to the second scenario, I show that even though it is redundant insofar as (I) is concerned and irrelevant insofar as (IIa) is concerned, it is, surprisingly, effective against (IIb), despite the fact that as a form of weak instrumentalism it is not the target of LPA. In addition, I examine the implications of LPA for the three variants when it is applied to the preservation rather than the destruction of nature and conclude that LPA is effective against (I) and (IIb), but not as effective against (IIa), which can recognize a permission, though not a duty, to save nature.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
Henry J. Folse, Jr. The Environment and the Epistemological Lesson of Complementarity
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Following discussions by Callicott and Zimmerman, I argue that much of deep ecology’s critique of science is based on an outdated image of natural science. The significance of the quantum revolution for environmental issues does not lie in its alleged intrusion of the subjective consciousness into the physicists’ description of nature. Arguing from the viewpoint of Niels Bohr’s framework of complementarity,I conclude that Bohr’s epistemological lesson teaches that the object of description in physical science must be interaction and that it is now mistaken to imagine that physical science aims to represent nature in terms of properties it possesses apart from interaction.
book reviews
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
Marvin Henberg The Wilderness Condition
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8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
Frederick Ferré Sustainability: Economics, Ecology, and Justice
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9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
Greta Gaard Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit
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comment
10. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
Roland C. Clement On Conservative Misinterpretation
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