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141. 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.
142. 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.
143. 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.
144. 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.
145. 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.
146. 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.
147. 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.
148. 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.
149. 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.
150. 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.
151. 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.
152. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Susan Power Bratton The Original Desert Solitaire: Early Christian Monasticism and Wilderness
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Roderick Nash’s conc1usion in Wilderness and the American Mind that St. Francis “stood alone in a posture of humility and respect before the natural world” is not supported by thorough analysis of monastic literature. Rather St. Francis stands at the end of a thousand-year monastic tradition. Investigation of the “histories” and sayings of the desert fathers produces frequent references to the environment, particularly to wildlife. In stories about lions, wolves, antelopes, and other animals, the monks sometimes exercise spiritual powers over the animals, but frequently the relationship is reciprocal: the monks provide for the animals and the animals provide for the monks. This literature personifies wild animals and portrays them as possessing Christian virtues. The desert monk is portrayed as the “new Adam” living at peace with creation. Some of the literature is anti-urban, with the city treated as a place of sin, the desert a place of purification. The wildemess functions much as a monk’s cell, providing freedom from worldly concems and a solitary place for prayer and contemplation. The monks’ relationship to the desert is evidence of their spiritual progress.
153. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
David Abram Merleau-Ponty and the Voice of the Earth
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Ecologists and environmental theorists have paid little attention to our direct, sensory experience of the enveloping world. In this paper I discuss the importance of such experience for ecological philosophy. Merleau-Ponty’s careful phenomenology of perceptual experience shows perception to be an inherently creative, participatory activity-a sort of conversation, carried on underneath our spoken discourse, between the living body and its world. His later work discloses the character of language itself as a medium born of the body’s participation with a world experienced as alive. That living world is none other than the Earth.
154. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Patrick D. Murphy Sex-Typing the Planet
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The ecology movement has recently attempted to reinvigorate the image of Earth in terms of Lovelock and Epton’s “Gaia hypothesis.” I analyze the shortcomings of using Gaia imagery in the works of Lovelock, deep ecologists, feminists, and ecological poets, and conclude that while the hypothesis serves to alter consciousness, naming it Gaia reinforces the oppressive hierarchical patterns of patriarchal gender stereotypes that it opposes. We are moving toward a new paradigm of nonpatriarchal pluralistic co-evolution, but if deep ecology is going to promote fully its development, it needs to recast or cast aside Gaia imagery.
155. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Christopher D. Stone Moral Pluralism and the Course of Environmental Ethics
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Environmental ethics has reached a certain level of maturity; further significant advances require reexamining its status within the larger realm of moral philosophy. It could aim to extend to nonhumans one of the familiar sets of principles subject to appropriate modifications; or it could seek to break away and put forward its own paradigm or paradigms. Selecting the proper course requires as the most immediate mission exploring the formal requirements of an ethical system. In general, are there constraints against bringing our moral relations with different sorts of things under different mIes of govemance? In particular, how much independence can an environmental ethic (or ethics) aim to have?
156. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Rafal Serafin Noosphere, Gaia, and the Science of the Biosphere
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Advances in analytical understanding of the biosphere’s biogeochemical cycles have spawned concepts of Gaia and noosphere. Earlier in this century, in concert with the Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the natural scientist Vladimir Vernadsky developed the notion of noosphere-an evolving collective human consciousness on Earth exerting an ever increasing intluence on biogeochemical processes. More recently, the chemist James Lovelock postulated the Earth to be a self-regulating system made up of biota and their environment with the capacity to maintain a planetary steady state favorable to life. This is the Gaia hypothesis. To many, Gaia and noosphere represent contradictory interpretations of humanity’s relation to planetary ecology. Noosphere emphasizes a free will and obligation to shape the destiny of humanity on Earth through technology and new kinds of social relations. In contrast, Gaia invokes mysterious mechanisms of planetary evolution that lie beyond human control and understanding. I argue that if brought together, noosphere and Gaia can provide a useful symbol for guiding human interventions in global ecology because the contradictions of a nature-centered view of Gaia and a human-centered view of noosphere are coming to be irrelevant with the emergence of an analytical science of the biosphere.
157. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Eric Katz Unfair to Foundations? A Reply to Weston
158. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Charles Taliaferro The Environmental Ethics of the Ideal Observer
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The ideal observer theory provides a fruitful framework for doing environmental ethics. It is not homocentric, it can illuminate the relationship between religious and nonreligious ethics, and it has implications for normative environmental issues. I defend it against eritieism raised by Thomas Carson and Jonathan Harrison.
159. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Brent A. Singer An Extension of Rawls’ Theory of Justice to Environmental Ethics
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By combining and augmenting recent arguments that have appeared in the literature, I show how a modified Rawlsian theory of justice generates a strong environmental and animal rights ethic. These modifications include significant changes in the conditions of the contract situation vis-a-vis A Theory of Justice, but I argue that these modifications are in fact more consistent with Rawls’ basic assumptions about the functions of a veil of ignorance and a thin theory of the good.
160. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Harley Cahen Against the Moral Considerability of Ecosystems
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Are ecosystems morally considerable-that is, do we owe it to them to protect their “interests”? Many environmental ethicists, impressed by the way that individual nonsentient organisms such as plants tenaciously pursue their own biological goals, have concluded that we should extend moral considerability far enough to include such organisms. There is a pitfall in the ecosystem-to-organism analogy, however. We must distinguish a system’s genuine goals from the incidental effects, or byproducts, of the behavior of that system’s parts. Goals seem capable of giving rise to interests; byproducts do not. It is hard to see how whole ecosystems can be genuinely goal-directed unless group selection occurs at the community level. Currently, mainstream ecological and evolutionary theory is individualistic. From such a theory it follows that the apparent goals of ecosystems are mere byproducts and, as such, cannot ground moral considerability.