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Environmental Ethics

Volume 40
Chinese Environmental Philosophy

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1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
News and Notes
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2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Trish Glazebrook, Anthony Kola-Olusanya From the Guest Editors
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features
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Workineh Kelbessa Environmental Philosophy in African Traditions of Thought
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Besides normative areas, African environmental philosophy should pay attention to the epistemological and metaphysical dimensions of the worldviews of the African people in order to understand the environmental attitudes and values in African traditions of thought. Unlike mainstream Western ethics, African environmental philosophy has renounced anthropomorphism, anthropocentrism, and ethnocentrism and recognizes the interconnectedness of human beings with the natural environment and its component parts. In African worldviews, the physical and the metaphysical, the sacred and the secular, the natural and the supernatural are interrelated. Human beings are part of the natural environment. African philosophers should continue to explore the potential for a strong African environmental philosophy in African traditions of thought that can contribute to the solution of current environmental crises.
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Boyowa Anthony Chokor Cultural Ethics and Social Mediation of Environmental Action and Use of Space in Nigeria
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Space provides the major context for environmental interactions, both social or physical. In Africa the use of space is mediated by sociocultural values, beliefs, and norms. Segments of space from the room to the village square and surrounding natural environment have domains of cultural rules, symbols, and meanings assigned to them with import for environmental behavior and action among elders, children, and women. They illuminate aspects of the social enforcement of three forms of environment-related rules: “prescriptive,” mediating, and community-assigned environmental codes/taboos, some of which may require purification rites for violations. Several transgenerational eco-thoughts and eco-fantasies embedded in social practices have significant bearing on sustainable environmental conservation. Five major contexts are in deep interplay between community environmental ethics and environmental action: (1) the adoption and evocation of spiritualized rules in regulating the use of space; (2) the declaration of sacred grounds and territories to bound people; (3) the evolution of time-and place-related rules; (4) the use of physical designs to secure behavioral expectations; and (5) the role of “regulatory social institutions” in the enforcement of environmental codes. They point to the fact that cultural and social meanings assigned to the ordinary physical environment are important in deconstructing peoples’ use of space. While traditional communal environmental norms can be given preeminence, their correlates in cosmopolitan societies are exemplified in the complex formal rules sometimes employed in regulating the use of space, creating a juridical order in the drive for efficiency and profit in capitalistic societies.
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Michael Adetunji Ahove Paradigm Shifts of the African Worldview: Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Education
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Africa is the most vulnerable region of the world due to anthropogenic climate change challenges on account of dependence on nature for the sustenance of agriculture as her main source of income, high level of poverty, and low level of literacy. Climate change adaptation involves strategies of adjusting to the negative effects of climate change, while climate change mitigation involves techniques that help to reduce production of greenhouse gases through burning fossil fuels. The African worldview from the frontier of Nigerian epistemological and ontological perspectives as it finds expression in climate change adaptation and mitigation is built on the foundations of its relationship with nature, traditional religion and belief systems, agricultural practices, and some other day-to-day practices. Worldview analysis of the contemporary Nigerian has been conducted and classified into Original African, Westernized African, and Little Here-and-There African, a paradigm existing in Nigerians irrespective of level of Western education. What will be the fate of the younger Nigerian climate scientist in a globalized and technologically competitive world? This question gives rise to further discussion on the principles and application of the theory of Culturo-Techno-Contextual Approach as postulated by Peter A. Okebukola and applied to creating an environment for meaningful learning on climate change adaptation and mitigation for the future generations of Nigerians.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Edward Uzoma Ezedike Ratiocentrism, Intrinsic Value, and the Moral Status of the Nonhuman Natural World: A Reflection on Kant’s Categorial Imperative
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Kant’s doctrine of the “categorical imperative” with respect to ratiocentrism needs to be examined for its implications for environmental ethics. Kant’s argument is that moral actions must be categorical or unqualified imperatives that reflect the sovereignty of moral obligations that all rational moral agents could figure out by virtue of their rationality. For Kant, humans have no direct moral obligations to non-rational, nonhuman nature: only rational beings, i.e., humans, are worthy of moral consideration. I argue that this position is excessively anthropocentric and ratiocentric in excluding the nonhuman natural world from moral consideration. While conceding that nonhuman nature is instrumentally valuable owing to some inevitable existential, ontological considerations, moral obligation should be extended to the natural world in order to achieve environmental wholeness.
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Emmanuela Opoku, Trish Glazebrook Gender, Agriculture, and Climate Policy in Ghana
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Ghana is aware of women farmers’ climate adaptation challenges in meeting the country’s food security needs and has strong intentions to support these women, but is stymied by economic limitations, poor organization in governance, persistent social gender biases, and either little or counter-productive support from international policy makers and advisory bodies. Focal issues are the global impacts of climate change on agriculture, Africa’s growing hunger crisis, and women’s contribution to food production in Ghana. Of special importance are the issues of gender-inclusiveness and gender-sensitivity of Ghana’s climate and climate-related policies, including its integration of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change policy, as well as the influence of international economic policy on Ghana’s gender development. Because women farmers provide the majority of the country’s national food-basket, Ghana (as well as other African counries) should focus on building women subsistence farmers’ adaptation needs to avert mass starvation. People should understand that starvation in Africa is not a future event but is already underway.
8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Yvette Abrahams How Must I Explain to the Dolphins?: An Intersectional Approach to Theorizing the Epistemology of Climate Uncertainty
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The story of change and growth, i.e., evolution, in the traditional manner, involves an epistemology of indigenous knowledge systems that admits both evolution and the divine—and therefore the human capacity for free choice—that tells us that fossil fuels are a bad choice. Steven Biko’s message of “Black Consciousness” responds to the dilemma of how we belong to the species that is damaging the planetary ecosystem, amd yet how we can deny complicity by saying that reclaiming our culture enables us to see what we have done, so we can refuse complicity with the system that has divided us and take responsibility for giving birth to new life. The uncertainties of climate change can be thought through using race, class, gender, sexual orientation, indigeneity, and disability as categories of analysis. The result is an understanding that through both climate science and lived experience, we can know enough to know we ought to act on climate change. We do not need more research; we need instead an acceptance of our ignorance amid a sense of ethical responsibility. This story speaks of liberation from oppression and of climate action as deeply entangled in
book reviews
9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Piers H. G. Stephens Svetozar Y. Minkov and Bernhardt L. Trout, eds.: Mastery of Nature: Promises and Prospects
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10. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Tony Vogt David Naguib Pellow: What is Critical Environmental Justice?
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11. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Referees 2018
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12. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Index for 2018
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13. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3
News and Notes
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features
14. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3
Lisa Kretz The Oppression of Nonhuman Life: An Analysis Using the Lens of Karen Warren’s Work
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Karen Warren’s work has helped to transform the landscape of environmental philosophy, contributing theoretical grounding for Western ecofeminism and opening the range of theoretical perspectives one can adopt when doing Western environmental ethics. Although her work is laudable, there are substantive worries about how potential subjects of oppression are characterized in her later work. Warren’s work and relevant secondary literature can be used as a foil to illuminate inadequate justification for the failure to include all living entities as potential subjects of the harm of oppression. The failure to provide conceptual room to include all entities that can rightfully be the potential subjects of oppression limits our understanding of oppression and the multiple ways in which it functions. Additionally, failure to attend to all potential subjects of oppression limits practical opportunities for anti-oppressive solidarity in political action. If oppression is correctly described as the harm of particular group members by others, and the class of living entities can be subjected to harm, then nonhuman living entities can potentially be subjects of oppression. The aim here is to provide conceptual support for the possibility that nonhuman life can be oppressed.
15. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3
Tony Chackal Place, Community, and the Generation of Ecological Autonomy
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Autonomy is traditionally considered to be an epistemic capacity of individuals to think for themselves, and the community is held to be its central obstruction. Autonomy is the internal capacity to freely use reason to form beliefs and preferences that are one’s own. It is premised on the atomistic individual conceived as a decontextualized rational mind. Accordingly, natural, physical, and social externalities have not been included in discourse on autonomy. But if individuals are seen as embodied dwellers within social and natural environments and are reconceived as ecological, that is, partly constituted by their environments, then autonomy must likewise be reconceived. Ecological autonomy is an internal epistemic capacity to think and an external actional capacity to act for oneself in relation to other individuals and environments. Whereas traditional and even relational autonomy require that competency and authenticity conditions must be met for internal thinking, ecological autonomy requires two sets of competency and authenticity conditions, one for internal thought and one for external action. An ecological treatment holds that while community can obstruct autonomy, it also generates and sustains it to reveal how community and place are co-defined as mutually constitutive companion concepts with alternate emphases. Place emphasizes physical and social, and natural and artificial environments, but includes people and social practices. Community emphasizes people, social practices, knowledge, and values, but includes the environing world.
16. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3
Brendan Cline Do Species Really Matter?: The Case of “The” Galápagos Giant Tortoise
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Many environmentalists hold that the loss of a species is intrinsically bad, and many also think that we have moral obligations to species as such. In an attempt to capture these thoughts, some philosophers have suggested that species are bearers of intrinsic value. This approach works well in paradigmatic cases. However, it begins to break down in more difficult scenarios, such as when species boundaries are unclear or when resources are scarce. The case study of the Galápagos giant tortoises in this essay illustrates the limitations of traditional accounts of the non-instrumental value of species. Careful attention to this case indicates how species-centric accounts diverge from the evaluative attitudes of environmentalists, and suggests new directions for theoretical replacements.
discussion papers
17. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3
Ryan Garrett A Cartesian Approach to Environmental Ethics
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The philosophy of René Descartes has been attacked by environmental ethicists for supposedly being pivotal in preventing the formulation of proper environmental concerns and attitudes. Yet, Descartes’ philosophy if read charitably is, in fact, effective in developing a proper environmental ethic. He believed God created two kinds of substances, mental and physical; humans are composed of a mental and physical substance, plants and animals of only a physical substance. He argued that humans, animals, and plants, despite their difference in substance, share the same status of creatures and interact with one another. Morally, Descartes argued that humans properly serving God receive theistic pleasure from promoting the welfare of their communities. Humans, animals, and plants exist in an ecological community with one another. Thus, Descartes’ philosophy naturally develops a theo-ecocentric environmental ethic as humans will receive theistic pleasure in promoting the welfare of ecological communities.
18. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3
Lisa Gerber Aldo Leopold's “Great Possessions”
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In environmental ethics, the conception of possession is generally criticized, since land, plants, and animals should not be objectified, controlled, or owned. Yet, Aldo Leopold planned to title A Sand County Almanac “Great Possessions.” His title emphasized a point that Leopold thought important. In contrast to a sense of possession as domination, Leopold articulates a deeper, moral sense of possession in which the person claims and is claimed by others. For example, not only does Leopold claim his pines, his wife, and his chickadees, but he is also claimed by them. In this sense, possession is an act of love, care, and willingness to work on the behalf of others with passion and commitment. This sense of possession is worthy of our understanding and our emulation.
19. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3
J. Spencer Atkins Have You Benefitted from Carbon Emissions? You May Be a “Morally Objectionable Free Rider”
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Much of the climate ethics discussion centers on considerations of compensatory justice and historical accountability. However, little attention is given to supporting and defending the Beneficiary Pays Principle as a guide for policymaking. This principle states that those who have benefitted from an instance of harm have an obligation to compensate those who have been harmed. Thus, this principle implies that those benefitted by industrialization and carbon emission owe compensation to those who have been harmed by climate change. Beneficiary Pays is commonly juxtaposed with Polluter Pays Principle and the Ability to Pay Principle in the relevant literature. Beneficiary Pays withstands objections that raise suspicion for the latter two.
book reviews
20. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3
Jeremy Bendik-Keymer Breena Holland: Allocating the Earth: A Distributional Framework for Protecting Environmental Capabilities in Environmental Law and Policy
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