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101. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 13 > Issue: 4
Kristin Shrader-Frechette Ethical Dilemmas and Radioactive Waste: A Survey of the Issues
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The accidents at Three Mile Island and Chemobyl have slowed the development of commercial nuclear fission in most industrialized countries , although nuclear proponents are trying to develop smaller, allegedly “fail-safe” reactors. Regardless of whether or not they succeed, we will face the problem of radioactive wastes for the next million years. After a brief, “revisionist” history of the radwaste problem, Isurvey some of the major epistemological and ethical difficulties with storing nuclear wastes and outline four ethical dilemmas common to many technological and environmental controversies. I suggest two solutions to these ethical dilemmas and show why they are also economical and realistic proposals.
102. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Elizabeth M. Harlow The Human Face of Nature: Environmental Values and the Limits of Nonanthropocentrism
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While some form of nonanthropocentrism is a defining feature of environmental ethics, there are at least four senses in which the value of nature might be said to be humanly independent, and these are often conflated. I argue that the strongest of these four (Roiston’s “autonomous intrinsic value”) may require classic ontological commitments which are no longer historically open to uso However, if we take seriously the language dependent view of nature suggested by post-Wittgensteinian epistemology, we find paradoxically that this kind of anthropocentrism can ground a genuine sense in which nature is valuable in its own right, yet as part of human good. In this context, Roiston’s distinction between “autonomous intrinsic value” and “anthropogenic intrinsic value” becomes a distinction without a difference.
103. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Lloyd H. Steffen In Defense of Dominion
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The biblical notion of dominion has often been cited as the source and sanction for Western attitudes of environmental disregard. An analysis of the Genesis passage in which dominion (radah) is mentioned reveals a curious misreading of the text: dominion is actually an ideal of human-divine intimacy and peacefulness-as one ought to expect in a paradise creation story. I analyze Genesis dominion not only as areligious concept, but also as a philosophical notion manifesting the Hebrew self-understanding of its contemporary experience with the natural world. Being a verb, radah is also an action concept that connotes an ethic of environmental responsibility. Dominion authorizes a philosophical critique of Western attitudes and practices of environmental exploitation. I defend it here as an intentional expression of the Western religious consciousness that could, if it were understood as an ideal of responsible action rather than as an authorization for callous disregard of the natural world, actually promote interreligious dialogue on environmental issues.
104. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Douglas E. Booth The Economics and Ethics of Old-Growth Forests
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An intense debate is currently underway in the Pacific Northwest over whether remnant old-growth forests should be preserved or harvested. Old-growth forests can be viewed (1) as objects used instrumentally to serve human welfare or (2) as entities that possess value in themselves and are thus worthy of moral consideration. I compare the instrumental view suggested by economic analysis with the biocentric and ecocentric alternatives and suggest a reconciliation of these approaches in the context of old-growth preservation.
105. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Richard A. Watson Misanthropy, Humanity, and the Eco-Warriors
106. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Susan P. Bratton Loving Nature: Eros or Agape?
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Christian ethics are usually based on a theology of love. In the case of Christian relationships to nature, Christian environmental writers have either suggested eros as a primary source for Christian love, without dealing with traditional Christian arguments against eros, or have assumed agape (spiritual love or sacrificial love) is the appropriate mode, without defining how agape should function in human relationships with the nonhuman portion of the universe. I demonstrate that God’s love for nature has the same form and characteristics as God’s love for human beings, and that because agape is self-giving, it is preferable to eros in relationships with the environment. Agape concerning nature (I) is spontaneous and unmotivated, (2) is indifferent to value, (3) creates value, (4) initiates relationships with the divine, (5) recognizes individuality, (6) provides freedom, and (7) produces action and suffering. Agape might best be defined, not as Platonic ascent above the world, but as completely self-giving engagement with the world. Human love for nature is often limited by a human inability to accept love, including divine love, from nature. Flowing from God, agape cannot require reciprocity; yet agape understands what “the other has to give and can offer it complete valuation. Agape is the ideal form of human interaction with nature, because agape does not require equal status or ability, or common goals or needs. Love between humans and members of the land (or sea) community can be sacrificial, and should be distinguished by a loss of self-regard and a willingness to suffer. Further philosophical and theological discussion of the role of reciprocity and sacrifice in love for nature is highly desirable.
107. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
J. Baird Callicott Rolston on Intrinsic Value: A Deconstruction
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Central to Holmes Rolston’s Environmental Ethics is the theoretical quest of most enviromnental philosophers for a defensible concept of intrinsic value for nonhuman natural entities and nature as a whole. Rolston’s theory is similar to Paul Taylor’s in rooting intrinsic value in conation, but dissimilar in assigning value bonuses to consciousness and self-consciousness and value dividends to organic wholes andelemental nature. I argue that such a theory of intrinsic value flies in the face of the subject/object and fact/value dichotomies of the metaphysical foundations of modem science—a problem Rolston never directly confronts. The modern scientific world view is obsolete. A post-modem scientific world view provides for a range of potential values in nature actualizable upon interaction with consciousness. The bestthat a modem scientific world view can provide are subject-generated—though not necessarily subject-centered—values in nature.
108. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Robert C. Fuller American Pragmatism Reconsidered: William James’ Ecological Ethic
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In this paper, I argue that pragmatism, at least in its formulation by William James, squarely addresses the metaethical and normative issues at the heart of our present crisis in moral justification. James gives ethics an empirical foundation that permits the natural and social sciences a clear role in defining our obligation to the wider environment. Importantly, James’ pragmatism also addresses the psychological and cultural factors that help elicit our willingness to adopt an ethical posture toward life.
109. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Lawrence E. Johnson Toward the Moral Considerability of Species and Ecosystems
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I develop the thesis that species and ecosystems are living entities with morally significant interests in their own right and defend it against leading objections. Contrary to certain claims, it is possible to individuate such entities sufficiently well. Indeed, there is a sense in which such entities define their own nature. I also consider and reject the argument that species and ecosystems cannot have interests or even traits in their own right because evolution does not proceed on that level. Although evolution proceeds on the level of the genotype, those selected are able to cooperate in entities of various higher orders—including species and ecosystems. Having their own nature and interests, species and ecosystems can meaningfully be said to have moral standing.
110. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
J. Douglas Rabb From Triangles to Tripods: Polycentrism in Environmental Ethics
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Callicott’s basic mistake in his much regretted paper ”Animal Liberation: A Triangular Affair” is to think of the anthropocentric, zoocentric, and biocentric perspectives as mutually exclusive alternatives. An environmental ethics requires, instead, a polycentric perspective that accommodates and does justice to all three positions in question. I explain the polycentric perspective in terms of an analogy derived from the pioneering work of Canadian philosopher Rupert C. Lodge and distinguish it from both pragmatism and moral pluralism.
111. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
C. A. Bowers The Conservative Misinterpretation of the Educational Ecological Crisis
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Conservative educational critics (e.g., Allan Bloom, Mortimer Adler, and E. D. Hirsch, Jr.) have succeeded in flaming the debate on the reform of education in a manner that ignores the questions that should be asked about how our most fundamental cultural assumptions are contributing to the ecological crisis. In this paper, I examine the deep cultural assumptions embedded in their reform proposals that furtherexacerbate the crisis, giving special attention to their view of rational empowerment, the progressive nature of change, and their anthropocentric view of the universe. I argue that their form of conservatism must be supplanted by the more biocentric conservatism of such thinkers as Aldo Leopold, Wendell Berry, and Gary Snyder.
112. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 3
Roger Paden Nature and Morality
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In their attempt to develop a nonanthropocentric ethic, many biocentric philosophers have been content to argue for the expansion of the moral community to include natural entities. In doing so, they have implicitly accepted the idea that the conceptions of moral duties developed by anthropocentric philosophers to describe the moral relationships that hold between humans can be directly applied to thehuman/nature relationship. To make this expansion plausible, they have had to argue that natural entities have traits that are similar to the morally relevant traits of human beings, e.g., interests, the capacity to experience pleasure and pain, or “purpose.” Not only are these arguments often unconvincing, but it seems implausible that the same moral concepts and principles that govern human relationshipsalso should govern human/nonhuman relationships. Many nonanthropocentric ethics, I argue, are (mistakenly) anthropomorphic. They anthropomorphize nature and they anthropomorphize our relationship with nature. To go beyond this relationship I recommend the development of a nonanthropomorphic biocentric ethic. Such an ethic requires us to understand better what nature is and what role nature plays in moral experience and action. In such an ethic, I argue, nature is viewed as a transcendent “thing” with a transcendental moral significance.
113. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 3
Robert W. Loftin Scientific Collecting
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Scientists often collect (kill) organisms in pursuit of human knowledge. When is such killing morally permissible? I explore this question with particular reference to ornithology and against the background of animal liberation ethics and a land ethic, especially Mary Anne Warren’s account that finds the two ethics complementary. I argue that the ethical theories offered provide insufficient guidance. As a step toward the resolution of this serious problem, I offer a set of criteria to determine when collecting is morally permissible.
114. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 3
John Martin Gillroy Public Policy and Environmental Risk: Political Theory, Human Agency, and the Imprisoned Rider
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In this essay, I argue that environmental risk is a strategic situation that places the individual citizen in the position of an imprisoned rider who is being exploited without his or her knowledge by the preferences of others. I contend that what is at stake in policy decisions regarding environmental risk is not numerical probabilities or consistent, complete, transitive preferences for individual welfare, but rather respect for the human agency of the individual. Human agency is a prerequisite to one’s utility function and is threatened and exploited in the strategic situation that produces the imprisoned rider. This problem is created by the policy maker’s assumption that his or her task is to assume rational preferences and aggregate them. The guidelines for evaluation and justification of policy should move beyondwelfare preferences and involve an active state protecting human agency and empowering the imprisoned rider. Only in this way can we free all citizens (a priori) from fear of exploitation by those who would impose collective and irreversible risk on each of them in violation of their unconditional right to their own agency.
115. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 3
Eric Katz The Call of the Wild: The Struggle against Domination and the Technological Fix of Nature
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In this essay, I use encounters with the white-tailed deer of Fire Island to explore the “call of the wild”—the attraction to value that exists in a natural world outside of human control. Value exists in nature to the extent that it avoids modification by human technology. Technology “fixes” the natural world by improving it for human use or by restoring degraded ecosystems. Technology creates a “new world,” an artifactual reality that is far removed from the “wildness” of nature. The technological “fix” of nature thus raises a moral issue: how is an artifact morally different from a natural and wild entity? Artifacts are human instruments; their value lies in their ability to meet human needs. Natural entities have no intrinsic functions; they were not created for any instrumental purpose. To attempt to manage natural entities is to deny their inherent autonomy: a form of domination. The moral claim of the wilderness is thus a claim against human technological domination. We have an obligation to struggle against this domination by preserving as much of the natural world as possible.
116. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 3
Ariel Salleh The Ecofeminism/Deep Ecology Debate
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I discuss conceptual confusions shared by deep ecologists over such questions as gender, essentialism, normative dualism, and eco-centrism. I conclude that deep ecologists have failed to grasp both the epistemological challenge offered by ecofeminism and the practical labor involved in bringing about social change. While convergencies between deep ecology and ecofeminism promise to be fruitful, these are celebrated in false consciousness, unless remedial work is done
117. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 4
Peter Quigley Rethinking Resistance: Environmentalism, Literature, and Poststructural Theory
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I argue that with the advent of poststructuralism, traditional theories of representation, truth, and resistance have been seriously brought into question. References to the “natural” and the “wild” cannot escape the poststructural attack against foundational concepts and the constituting character of human-centered language. I explore the ways in which environmental movements and literary expression have tended to posit pre-ideological essences, thereby replicating patterns of power and authority. I also point to how environmentalism might be reshaped in light of poststructuralism to challenge power without reference to authority.
118. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 4
Ann S. Causey On Sport Hunting as an Instinct
119. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 4
Robert Frodeman Radical Environmentalism and the Political Roots of Postmodernism
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I examine the close relationship between radical environmentalism and postmodernism. I argue that there is an incoherence within most postmodernist thought, born of an unwillingness or incapacity to distinguish between claims true from an ontological or epistemological perspective and those appropriate to the exigencies of political life. The failure to distinguish which differences make a difference not only vitiates postmodernist thought, but also runs up against some of the fundamental assumptions of radical environmentalism.
120. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 14 > Issue: 4
David Johns On Watson’s Response to Foreman