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31. 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.
32. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Eric Katz Unfair to Foundations? A Reply to Weston
33. 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.
34. 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.
35. 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.
36. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Don E. Marietta, Jr. Ethical Holism and Individuals
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Environmental holism has been accused of being totalitarian because it subsumes the interests and rights of individuals under the good of the whole biosphere, thus rejecting humanistic ethics. Whether this is true depends on the type of holism in question. Only an extreme form of holism leads to this totalitarian approach, and that type of holism should be rejected, not alone because it leads to unacceptable practices, but because it is too abstract and reductionistic to be an adequate basis for ethics.
37. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Anthony Weston Unfair to Swamps: A Reply to Katz
38. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 4
James F. O’Brien Teilhard’s View of Nature and Some Implications for Environmental Ethics
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Teilhard’s cosmological speculation is a valuable basis for an environmental ethics that perceives individual natural objects as good in themselves and the world as good in itself. Teilhard perceives man as fundamentally part of a cosmic environmental whole that is greater than mankind taken individually or collectively. His holistic views on human biological and psychological and social evolution are, I argue,compatible with a biocentric environmental ethics. I discuss some similarities and differences with the views of the deep ecology movement. I show that Teilhard’s hierarchical system is not humanistically oriented in a way that need be interpreted by Teilhardians as contrary to environmental well-being. I argue that Teilhard’s sympathies toward transportation technology, including the automobile, can be interpreted in his holistic manner. I conclude that Teilhard’s theocentric views are also a basis for supporting an environmental ethics which is both optimistic and not anthropocentric.
39. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 4
Robert Paehlke Democracy, Bureaucracy, and Environmentalism
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Several prominent analysts, including Heilbroner, Ophuls, and Passmore, have drawn bleak conclusions regarding the implications of contemporary environmental realities for the future of democracy. I establish, however, that the day-to-day practice of environmental politics has often had an opposite effect: democratic processes have been enhanced. I conclude that the resolution of environmental problems may weIl be more promising within a political context which is more rather than less democratic.
40. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 4
Jeanne Kay Concepts of Nature in the Hebrew Bible
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The lack of resolution in the debate about the Bible’s environmental despotism or stewardship may be resolved by more literal and literary approaches. When the Bible is examined in its own terms, rather than in those of current environmentalism, the Bible’s own perspectives on nature and human ecology emerge. The Hebrew Bible’s principal environmental theme is of nature’s assistance in divine retribution. The Bible’s frequent deployment of contradiction as a literary device, however, tempers this perspective to present amoral, yet multi-sided view of nature.