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1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Susan L. Flader Leopold’s Some Fundamentals of Conservation: A Commentary
2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Aldo Leopold Some Fundamentals of Conservation in the Southwest
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Leopold first discusses the conservation of natural resources in the southwestern United States in economic tenns, stressing, in particular, erosion and aridity. He then concludes his analysis with a discussion of the moral issues involved, developing his general position within the context of P. D. Ouspenky’s early philosophy of organism.
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
John B. Cobb, Christian Existence in a World of Limits
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The new awareness of limits profoundly challenges dominant habits of mind and styles of life. Although Christians have largely adopted these now inappropriate habits and styles, the Christian tradition has resources for a more appropriate response. Among these resources are Christian realism, the eschatological attitude, the discernment of Christ, the way of the cross, and prophetie vision. Finally, faith offers freedom from the burden of guilt of failing to live in a way appropriate to our newly perceived reality.
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Don Howard Commoner on Reductionism
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Barry Commoner has argued that the environmental failure of modern technology is due in large part to the reductionistic character ofmodern science, especially its biological component where the reductionist approach has triumphed in molecular biology. I claim, first, that Commoner has confused reduction in the sense of the reduction of one theory to another with what is better called analysis, or the strategy of breaking a whoie into its parts in order to understand the properties of the whole, this latter being the actual target of his attack. I then argue that his criticisms of molecular biology fail since each of the properties of the cell which he claims cannot be understood in an analytic fashion, such as reproduction, development and inheritance, can be so understood, and that, in fact, each of his putatively nonanalytic accounts of these properties is the result of analysis. Similarly, Commoner’s claim that ecosystenls possess properties that cannot be understood analytically is refuted by comparing ecosystems with automobiles, which Commoner acknowledges are susceptible to analysis, and by showing that there are no essential differences between the two. FinaIly, l observe that while it is false that ecosystems canna! be understood in analytic terms, it is true that they are not usually thus understood, and that the explanation for this is not that scientists subscribe to amistaken philosophy, but that our social institutions for the teaching and application of science do not adequately stress the importance of exploring the connections between the parts of such complex wholes.
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Richard A. Watson Self-Consciousness and the Rights of Nonhuman Animals and Nature
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A reciprocity framework is presented as an analysis of morality, and to explain and justify the attribution of moral rights and duties. To say an entity has rights makes sense only if that entity can fulfill reciprocal duties, i.e., can act as a moral agent. To be a moral agent an entity must (1) be self-conscious, (2) understand general principles, (3) have free will, (4) understand the given principles, (5) be physicallycapable of acting, and (6) intend to act according to or against the given principles. This framework is foundational both to empirical and supernatural positions which distinguish a human milieu, which is moral, from a nonhuman milieu, which is not. It also provides a basis for evaluating four standard arguments for the rights ofnonhuman animals and nature-the ecological, the prudential, the sentimental, and the contractual. If reciprocity is taken as being central to the general concepts of rights and duties, then few animals, and no natural objects or natural systems, have rights and duties in an intrinsic or primary sense, although they may be assigned them in an extrinsic or secondary sense as a convenience in connection with human interests. Nevertheless, there are some animals besides humans - e.g., especially chimpanzees, gorillas, dolphins, and dogs - which, in accordance with good behavioral evidence, are moral entities, and sometimes moral agents. On the grounds of reciprocity, they merit, at aminimum, intrinsic or primary rights to life and to relief from unnecessary suffering.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Kathleen M. Squadrito Locke’s View of Dominion
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In this paper l examine the extent to which Locke’s reIigious and poIiticaI ideoIogy might be considered to exempIify values which have Ied to environmentaI deterioration. In the Two Treatises of Governlnent, Locke appears to hold a view of dominion which compromises humanitarian principles for economic gain. He often asserts that man has a right to accumulate property and to use land and animals for comfort and convenience. This right issues from God’s decree that men subdue the Earth and have dominion over every living thing. Although abuse of the environment appears to be justified in Locke’s political works, I argue that there are many passages in this work that cast doubt on such an interpretation. Further , the view of dominion adopted in Locke's educational work is one of responsible stewardship. On the whole, his view stresses man’s duties and obligation towards all creation.
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
R.J. Nelson Ethics and Environmental Decision Making
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Environmental ethics tends to be dominated by the idea that the right environmental actions require a change in the value systems of many people. I argue that the “rebirth” approach is perverse in that moral attitudes are not easily changed by moral suasion. A properly ethical approach must begin where we are, as moderately moral people desiring the best for all. The real ethical problem is to develop procedures for collectively defining environmental ends that will be fair to the parties participating in the decision process. This idea is essentially utilitarian, and depends on the maximization of expected social utility. This type of environmental ethics is contrasted with current theories of social choice in welfare economics and with Rawls’ theory of justice as fairness.
8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Eugene C. Hargrove The Historical Foundations of American Environmental Attitudes
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John Passmore has claimed that American environmental attitudes are incompatible with Western traditions and Western civilization: they arose out of a Romantic transvaluation of values in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and today are defensible only in terms of antiscientific nature mysticism and Oriental religions. I argue that these attitudes developed out of an intricate interplay between Western science and art over the last three centuries, and are, therefore, of Western, not Eastern, origin. Moreover, they are apart of scientific and aesthetic changes so broad and fundamental that, despite Passmore’s prediction that they are unlikely to survive into the twenty-first century, they cannot be regarded lightly as a passing fad, and probably have already found a permanent place in Western thought and values.
9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
R. V. Young, Jr. A Conservative View of Environmental Affairs
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The contemporary debate over man’s relation to his natural environment raises many complex issues which have thrown our familiar liberal and conservative political alignments into disarray. Although ecology is now generally regarded as a liberal cause with conservatives supporting commercial and industrial expansion, until very recently liberals almost unanimously championed industrialization andtechnological advance. Resistance to “progress” was the folly of only the most eccentric conservatives. Today, both liberal proponents of environmental protection and conservative defenders of business and industry argue on merely prudential grounds: each side maintains that only the adoption of its own program can save human civilization from collapse, or even the race from extinction. Extremely radical environmentalists have based their arguments on nloral principle: humanity is just one species among many, and men are, therefore, morally obligated to respect the rights of other organisms and of the ecosystem as a whole. This position, however, is ultimately reducible to a self-contradictory utilitarianism. It is the reverent attitude of traditional conservatism - that man is superior to other creatures as the steward of creation, holding it not as absolute possessor but only in trust from his Creator - that promises both the most moral and the most sensible approach to environmental affairs.
10. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Don E. Marietta, Jr. The Interrelationship of Ecological Science and Environmental Ethics
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Arecent trend among environmentalists (e.g., Aldo Leopold) of basing ethical norms for land use, resource management, and conservation on ecological principies such as homeostasis is examined, and a way to justify such an ethical approach through analysis of moral judgment is explored. Issues such as the is/ought impasse, the connection between value judgments and reasons for acting, and the question of whether moral judgments are definitive and categorical are treated as they relate to an ecological ethic, i.e., an environmental ethic grounded in ecological science. I argue that such an ethic is in such regards as sound as more traditional approaches.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Christopher Manes Philosophy and the Environmental Task
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Although the particular ethical consequenees of biocentrism can be defended at a logical level, the centrality of problems with valuational frameworks in biocentric ethics leads to ontologieal ambiguities which contribute to the broader problematic of modem metaphysics. I suggest, however, that this may actually help to thematize the relationship between the metaphysieal foundations of environmentalism and its social task. Mysticism and phenomenology, including the concept of the “ecological self,” attempt to settle these ambiguities in a dialectical opposition to the technological world view behind the environmental crisis. Whatever ontological stability they achieve, however, is at the expense of being assimilated by the same kind of metaphysical totalization characterizing technological thinking. Unlike anthropocentrism and the stewardship model of environmentalism, nevertheless, these difficulties for biocentrism lead to positive results: the ambiguities in the search for philosophic stability and foundational certainty can act as a cue to the nonmetaphysical task of analyzing and resisting technological power. The result may be a “negative ethics,” but one that holds out the possibility of confronting the real power relations of technological culture (and the use of ethics within them), rather than pursuing the endless projeet of discovering the hidden source of value and meaning.
19. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Mark Sagoff Some Problems with Environmental Economics
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In this essay I criticize the contigent valuation method in resource economics and the concepts of utility and efficiency upon which it is based. I consider an example of this method and argue that it cannot-as it pretends-substitute for public education and political deliberation.
20. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Michael E. Zimmerman Quantum Theory, Intrinsic Value, and Panentheism
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J. Baird Callicott seeks to resolve the problem of the intrinsic value of nature by utilizing a nondualistic paradigm derived from quantum theory. His approach is twofold. According to his less radical approach, quantum theory shows that properties once considered to be “primary” and “objective” are in fact the products of interactions between observer and observed. Values are also the products of such interactions. According to his more radical approach, quantum theory’s doctrine of internal relations is the model for the idea that everything is intrinsically valuable because the “I” is intrinsically valuable and related to everything else. I argue that humanity’s treatment of nature will become respectful only as humanity’s awareness evolves toward nondualism, and that such nondualistic awareness will not be produced by changes in scientific theory alone. Nevertheless, as Callicott suggests, such changes may be harbingers of evolutionary trends in human awareness. I conclude with a sketch of how nondualism, especially in its panentheistic version, provides the basis for environmental ethics.