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Displaying: 41-60 of 2010 documents

41. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Levi Tenen No Intrinsic Value? No Problem: Why Nature Can Still Be Valuable for Its Own Sake
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Heirlooms and memorabilia are sometimes thought to be valuable for their own sakes even if they lack intrinsic value. They can have extrinsic final value, meaning that they can be valuable for their own sakes on account of their relation to other things. Yet if heirlooms and memorabilia can have this sort of value, then perhaps so can natural entities. If correct, this idea secures the claim that nature is valuable for its own sake without requiring that it have a normative property just in itself. Additionally, it does not commit one to the contentious view that natural entities have a more foundational value than that of persons or sentient beings. Yet it remains to be shown how, precisely, natural entities can have this sort of value. As argued here, one such way is if the given natural entity is related to something else that people are justified in valuing in a partly passive manner. This account then sheds light on the values present in a world increasingly affected by humans.
42. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Alexander Lee, Alex Hamilton, Benjamin Hale Conservation Floors and Degradation Ceilings: A Justificatory Architecture for Constraints in U.S. Environmental Policy
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U.S. conservation policy, both in structure and in practice, places a heavy burden on conservationists to halt development projects, rather than on advocates of development to defend their proposed actions. In this paper, we identify this structural phenomenon in several landmark environmental policies and in practice in the contemporary debate concerning oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The burdens placed on conservation can be understood in terms of constraints—as conservation ‘floors’ (or minimum standards) and degradation ‘ceilings’ (or upper limits). At base, these floors and ceilings emerge out of underlying consequentialist commitments that assume that our environmental activity can be justified by appeal primarily to ends. A series of intuition pumps guides our argument to instead shift the conservation discourse away from these consequentialist commitments to more widely justify activities on our public lands.
43. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Evelyn Brister, Andrew E. Newhouse Not the Same Old Chestnut: Rewilding Forests with Biotechnology
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We argue that the wild release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be justified as a way of preserving species and ecosystems. We look at the case of a genetically modified American chestnut (Castanea dentata) that is currently undergoing regulatory review. Because American chestnuts are functionally extinct, a genetically modified replacement has significant conservation value. In addition, many of the arguments used against GMOs, especially GMO crops, do not hold for American chestnut trees. Finally, we show how GMOs such as the American chestnut support a reorientation of conservation values away from restoration as it has historically been interpreted, and toward an alternative framework known as rewilding.
44. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Thomas H. Bretz Discussing Harm without Harming: Disability and Environmental Justice
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While the disability community has long argued convincingly that disability is not a negative condition, academic and popular discourses on environmental justice routinely refer to disability as a prima facie harm to be avoided. This perpetuates the harms of ableism, and it is, furthermore, unnecessary in order to advance environmental justice. It is possible (a) to demand an investigation into the state of an environment, (b) to object to toxic environmental conditions and (c) to hold polluting parties accountable without assuming any overall difference in value or desirability between disabled and non-disabled lives.
45. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Simona Capisani Territorial Instability and the Right to a Livable Locality
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Territory loss and uninhabitability characterize the current environmental background conditions of the international state system. Such conditions present pressing moral questions about our obligations to protect those who are displaced by anthropogenic climate change. By virtue of our participation in the territorial state system, understood as a social practice, we have principled grounds to address some of the consequences of the uninhabitability conditions brought on by climate change. By assuming territorial instability and employing a practice-based method of justification we can identify a fundamental, basic right protected under the state system—the right to a livable locality—which grounds a moral obligation to protect against climate change-induced displacement. Assuming territorial instability and uninhabitability compels us to recognize that the causes generating climate-displacement are not merely natural but rather deeply political and that displacement is a foreseeable failure that results because of the state system’s organizational structure.
46. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1
News and Notes
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from the editor
47. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1
The Beginning of a New Beginning
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48. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1
Allen Thompson Adaptation, Transformation, and Development: Environmental Change and the Rethinking of the Human Good
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It is widely accepted that we must adapt to climate change. But we sit on the edge of radical, unprecedented, and rapid anthropogenic environmental changes that are driven by many factors in addition to greenhouse gas emissions. In this way, we occupy a unique and precarious position in the history of our species. Many basic conditions of life on Earth are changing at an alarming rate and thus we should begin to transform and broaden our thinking about adaptation. The conceptual history of climate adaptation intersects with conceptions of human development and sustainability, which provides a framework for adaptation in how we think about human flourishing and, subsequently, what it is to be human in the Anthropocene. If sustainability is about maintaining human welfare across generations but we acknowledge that climate change may undercut our ability to deliver as much and as good total or natural capital to subsequent generations, we have a residual duty to otherwise positively affect the welfare of future generations. A subjective, preference-based conception of human welfare is compared to an objective, capabilities-based approach and, while some adaptive preferences are unavoidable, embracing an objective theory of human flourishing provides a superior approach for meeting the residual duty we have to future generations by beginning the process of adapting our conception of human natural goodness, or what it is to be a good human being.
49. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1
Russell C. Powell Transforming Genius into Practical Power: Muir, Emerson, and the Politics of Character
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John Muir can be interpreted to have employed a similar strategy in his earliest conservation advocacy writings as the strategy Ralph Waldo Emerson employed to overcome the public futility of his personal ideals. Like Emerson, Muir came to offset the despair he felt at the political impotence of his conscience with a positive outlook on his potential to embody his subjective ideals both in his personal character and in his contributions to concrete forms of social practice. Muir thus can be shown to have standing in the environmental virtue ethics tradition by dint of his appreciation for the necessity of virtuous political participation in movements for social reform.
discussion papers
50. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1
Benn Johnson Abiotic Ecosystems?: A Critical Examination of Arthur Tansley’s Ecosystem Definition
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Arthur Tansley first defined the term ecosystem in his seminal work “Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts,” as an improved way of viewing the relationships between plants and their physical environments. However, his definition, while widely influential, privileges the living components over nonliving components of ecosystems, and has thus been unable to fully overcome the biocentrism of early plant ecologists. Moreover, the binary between life and nonlife is untenable, and serves only as a marker of the underlying biocentric values of a researcher. Drawing from Donna Haraway’s argument for situated knowledges, one can critically examine the biocentrism implicit in much of ecology (and conservation), and reconsider our definition of ecosystem in order to highlight our devaluation of the nonliving, and expand our normative universe.
51. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1
Steve Bein, James McRae Gorillas in the Midst (of a Moral Conundrum)
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In 2016, a Cincinnati Zoo worker shot and killed a Western lowland gorilla to protect a three-year-old boy who had fallen into the animal’s enclosure. This incident involves a variant of the classical trolley problem, one in which the death of a human being on the main track might be avoided by selecting an alternate track containing a member of an endangered species. This problem raises two important questions for environmental ethics. First, what, if anything, imbues a human child with greater value than a member of a critically endangered species? Second, is it ethical for zoos to house species such as gorillas? With regard to the first question, at a minimum, it is not obvious whether a human child or a gorilla has the greater value (i.e., that whatever evaluation one wishes to make, it requires an argument beyond simple speciesism). With regard to the second question, an appeal can be made to Japanese environmental philosophy, particularly the ethical paradigm of kyōsei (symbiosis) and the aesthetics of Yuriko Saitō. Members of endangered species have intrinsic value, which entails human obligations to protect the species as a whole and minimize harm to its specimens.
52. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1
Zhihe Wang, Meijun Fan, John Cobb, Jr. Chinese Environmental Ethics and Whitehead’s Philosophy
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Environmental ethics is a major topic of discussion and enactment in China. The government is committed to work toward an “ecological civilization,” a society in which concerns for a healthy natural environment are interwoven with concerns for a healthy human society and healthy human relations with nature. Whereas in the United States concern for the environment is rarely consciously philosophical, Chinese history has made people aware that philosophy underlies and shapes public policy. Whitehead’s thought has been welcomed as a way of clarifying and supporting the commitment to ecological civilization, which has been strongly reemphasized by President Xi. It also helps in reviving and incorporating classical Chinese thought without threatening the great advances China has made in science. This organic thinking has expressed itself in government policy in shifting from the industrialization of agriculture to support for eco-villages and in dethroning GDP as the measure of progress. The interest in Whitehead is expressed by thirty-six universities setting up Centers for Process Studies, extensive discussion of a process book—Organic Marxism—and numerous other publications.
book reviews
53. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 1
Thomas H. Bretz John Basl: The Death of the Ethic of Life
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54. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 4
News and Notes
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from the guest editor
55. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 4
Ricardo Rozzi Collaborative Inter-Continental Dialogues: From a Necrocene to a Biocene
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56. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 4
Luca Valera Depth, Ecology, and the Deep Ecology Movement: Arne Næss’s Proposal for the Future
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The aim of this paper is to focus on the idea of depth developed by Arne Næss, which is related both to his research methodology and some of its anthropological/cosmological implications. Far from being purely a psychological dimension (as argued by Warwick Fox), in Næss’s perspective, the subject of depth is a methodological and ontological issue that underpins and lays the framework for the deep ecology movement. We cannot interpret the question of “depth” without considering the “relational ontology” that he himself has developed in which the “ecological self” is viewed as a “relational union within the total field.” Based on this point of view, I propose that we are able to reinterpret the history of the deep ecology movement and its future, while rereading its politics, from the issue of depth.
57. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 4
Eric Pommier The Problem of Environmental Democracy: Responsibility and Deliberation
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The work of Hans Jonas’ has been largely overlooked by environmental philosophers. His Principle of Responsibility can help guide effective development of political institutions for environmental purposes. It is possible to use this principle to develop a deliberative and environmental conception of democracy. Some implications of the social contract framework of deliberative democracy show that Jonas’ conceptualization of responsibility leads to an environmental and deliberative conception of democracy by accommodating different citizens’ senses of the good in terms of an environmentally conceived global governance.
58. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 4
Catherine Larrère “A Life Worthy of Being Called Human”: The Actuality of Hans Jonas’ Maxim
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“Act so that the effects of your action are compatible with the permanence of genuine human life on Earth.” How can we understand Jonas’ “maxim”? Is it too anthropocentric to be of any interest for an environmental ethic? Is is too limited to survival to have a moral signification in a truly human ethic? One can argue first that it is not so much anti-Kantian than that it challenges the current prevailing “presentism” and obliges us to take into consideration not only future generations, but also the context in which one anticipates these future generations to be living. Therefore, we can distinguish two different interpretations of Jonas’ maxim: in a first stage, that of sustainable development, it was understood as taking into consideration not only the needs but also the rights of future generations; in a second stage, that of an Anthropocene and ecological transition, it means that making sense of humanity implies connecting human beings to the Earth and other living beings far from opposing them.
59. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 4
Daniel Loewe Environmental Intergenerational Justice and the Nonidentity Problem: A Kantian Approach
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A moral Kantian approach can be developed to deal with the nonidentity problem with regard to environmental intergenerationl justice—at least in cases of depletion or risky policy. Being a duty-oriented moral theory, this approach allows both that people coming into existence in a nonidentity situation can be glad to exist while simultaneously taking into account depletion or risky policy, to which their existence is causally related, as possibly being morally wrong because of a violation of moral duties.
60. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 4
Hernán Neira Climax: Biology and Ethics in Environmental Restoration
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Justifications for the environmental restoration of the Pumalín National Park, originally known as Pumalín Nature Sanctuary, in Chile can be analyzed from a philosophical and ethical point of view. The environmental stage to which the park should be restored is defined as a moral choice, rather than an ecological one, that is based on “climax” as an a priori value that supports and guides the main restoration actions carried out in the park. This climax is a pre-settling or pre-colonization condition. Defined philosophically, climax is both an ethical and political value. For these actions, the ecosystem’s health can be treated the same as that of a human’s health: each society defines the criteria and the acme of health, as well as the valid efforts to restore it.