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news and notes
1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 4
NEWS AND NOTES
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from the editor:
2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 4
The State of the Journal
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features
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 4
Klaus M. Meyer-Abich Toward a Practical Philosophy of Nature
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The application of the polluter-pays principle in environmental policy depends on answers to the philosophical questions about what is good or detrimental with respect to nature. Science and the economy constitute a functional circle of “observing” nature’s unity as well as its utility. Based on a concept of nature as a system of causally related objects or - complementary to this - as a bunch of “resources,” however, the human interest and responsibility in nature do not seem to be properly observed. Subjecting nature to human subjectivity may have been an adaptation in the wrong direction, since, if humanity is taken as the measure, there is no measure for humanity. A practical philosophy of nature should start from the assumption that science’s missing unity and the economy’s missing goodness are equivalent shortcomings in a complenlentary way. On the one hand, philosophy should engage in the problem-oriented reintegration of the sciences by establishing nuclei of interdisciplinary cooperation. We are relatingourselves to nature in a responsible way only when approaching nature as our own nature. On the other hand, while our technological faculties have reached a very high level of reliability and differentiation, we are definitely much less successful in recognizing goodness in economic “goods.” This calls for demand education with respect to how human needs are to be brought to bear as demands on nature, ahuman relation to nature as well as natural relations between human beings, again depending on answers to philosophical questions. In the history of ideas, nature has declined from “the nature of things and beings” to “the things and beings of nature,” or from being to beings. We will, however, never be able to judge what is good or bad with respect to nature if we do not from the outset start - pragmatically-with a normative concept of nature.
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 4
William Godfrey-Smith The Value of Wilderness
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In this paper I explore various grounds on which wilderness can be regarded as something which we should value, and I draw attention to the problems of resolving conftict which are generated by these diverse grounds. I conclude that our attitudes toward nature are partially determined by a background of metaphysical assumptions which derive in particular from the philosophy of Descartes. Thesemetaphysical preconceptions lead to the misconception that various alternative views about the natural environment are mystical or occult. Thus, an alternative non-Cartesian mode ofconception involving holistic or systemic modes of-thought is required in order to develop a satisfactory basis for our attitude toward the natural world.
discussion papers
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 4
Peter Heinegg Ecology and Social Justice: Ethical Dilemmas and Revolutionary Hopes
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The destructive tension between human needs and environmental conservation arises from flaws in our political and economic structures. Oppression of people and devastation of nature go hand in hand, and the root of both these evils is the denial of otherness. The ecology movement is basically a movement of liberation, and is in league, de jure and de facto, with other liberation movements, since it seeks to promote the rights ofthe nonhuman world. In this context, subjugation of the Other is immoral in all forms and ultimately suicidal. Recognition of the value of nonhuman nature doesn’t preclude a rational use of it, but requires something analogous to the primitive custom of apologizing to the spirits of prey, i.e., a mixture of religious respect and common sense. Awareness of the beauty and power of nature, like awareness ofthe injured rights of our fellow humans, creates a revolutionary moral imperative to change the life of our society.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 4
Robert C. Oelhaf Environmental Ethics: Atomistic Abstraction or Holistic Affection?
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For conventional economics things have value only to the degree that they give pleasure to individual human beings. In response to continuing environmental deterioration several alternatives have been offered for valuing resources and allocating them between generations. Most of these approaches are highly abstract. The deterioration of the Earth and the mistreatment of its inhabitants will not be stemmed by abstractions. Neither will abstract ideas direct us to the best use of our resources. We need to foster personal relationships between human beings and particular portions of the Earth.
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 4
Edwin P. Pister Endangered Species: Costs and Benefits
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Biologists are often placed in the difficult position of defending a threatened habitat or animal with vague reasoning and faulty logic simply because they have no better rationale at their immediate disposal. This places them at a distinct disadvantage and literally at the mercy of resource exploiters and their easily assignable dollar values. Although the initial dollar cost of delaying or precluding “development” may be sigriificant, the long-term benefits of saving the biological entities which might otherwise be destroyed are likewise great and are measurable in concrete terms which society is only now beginning to appreciate. Case histories are presented, a more profound rationale is explained, and the environmentalist is challenged to make his case sufficiently effective to reverse the current exploitive trends which threaten so many of Earth’s life forms.
8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 4
Roland C. Clement Watson’s Reciprocity of Rights and Duties
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Richard A. Watson’s proposal that rights inhere only in those who can perform duties is here objected to as being too intellectualistic. Instead, it is suggested that rights inhere in all those who participate in the process of becoming, as A. N. Whitehead proposed half a century ago. Ecological science lends new support to this view.
9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 4
Eric Katz Utilitarianism and Preservation
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In “The Concept of the Irreplaceable,” John N. Martin claims that utilitarian arguments can explain the environmentalist position concerning the preservation of natural objects as long as human attitudes toward preservation are considered along with the direct benefits of environmental preservation. But this type of utilitarian justification is biased in favor of the satisfaction of human preferences. No ethical theory which calculates goodness in terms of the amount of human satisfaction can present an adequate justification of environmental preservation. Since human interests must be considered primary, natural objects will only be preserved when their preservation is in accord with human preferences.
book reviews
10. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 4
L. W. Sumner Animal Liberation
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