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21. 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.
22. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Eric Katz Unfair to Foundations? A Reply to Weston
23. 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.
24. 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.
25. 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.
26. 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.
27. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Anthony Weston Unfair to Swamps: A Reply to Katz
28. 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.
29. 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.
30. 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.
31. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 10 > Issue: 4
Freya Mathews Conservation and Self-Realization: A Deep Ecology Perspective
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Nature in its wider cosmic sense is not at risk from human exploitation and predation. To see life on Earth as but a local manifestation of this wider, indestructable and inexhaustible nature is to shield ourselves from despair over the fate of our Earth. But to take this wide view also appears to make interventionist political action on behalf of nature-which is to say, conservation-superfluous. If we identify with nature in its widest sense, as deep ecology prescribes, then the “self-defence” argument usually advanced by deep ecologists in support of conservation appears not to work. I argue that the need for eco-activism can be reconciled with a rejection of despair within the framework of deep ecology, and that in the process of this reconciliation the meaning of the term conservation acquires a new, spiritual dimension.
32. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Peter Reed Man Apart: An Alternative to the Self-Realization Approach
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Seeing nature as ultimately separate from us rather than as apart of us is the source of a powerful environmental ethic. The work of Martin Buber, Rudolf Otto, and Peter Wessei Zapffe forms the conceptual framework for a view of nature as a Thou or a “Wholly Other,” a view which inspires awe for the nonhuman intrinsic value in nature. In contrast to the Self-realization approach of Naess and others, intrinsic value is here independent of the notion of a self. This approach suggests an ethic of humility and respect for nonhuman nature-to the degree that the continued existence of humans should be considered an open question .
33. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Warwick Fox The Deep Ecology-Ecofeminism Debate and Its Parallels
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There has recently been considerable discussion of the relative merits of deep ecology and ecofeminism, primarily from an ecofeminist perspective. I argue that the essential ecofeminist charge against deep ecology is that deep ecology focuses on the issue of anthropocentrism (i.e., human-centeredness) rather than androcentrism (i.e., malecenteredness). I point out that this charge is not directed at deep ecology’s positive or constructive task of encouraging an attitude of ecocentric egalitarianism, but rather at deep ecology's negative or critical task of dismantling anthropocentrism. I outline a number of problems that can attend not only the ecofeminist critique of deep ecology, but also comparable critiques that proceed from a broad range of social and political perspectives. I then proceed to argue that deep ecology’s concem with anthropocentrism is entirely defensible-and defensible in a way that should be seen as complementing and expanding the focus of radical social and political critiques rather thanin terms of these approaches versus deep ecology.
34. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Ramachandra Guha Radical American Environmentalism and Wilderness Perservation: A Third World Critique
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I present a Third World critique of the trend in American environmentalism known as deep ecology, analyzing each of deep ecology’s central tenets: the distinction between anthropocentrism and biocentrism, the focus on wildemess preservation, the invocation of Eastem traditions, and the belief that it represents the most radical trend within environmentalism. I argue that the anthropocentrism/biocentrism distinction is of little use in understanding the dynamics of environmental degredation, that the implementation of the wildemess agenda is causing serious deprivation in the Third World, that the deep ecologist’s interpretation of Eastem traditions is highly selective, and that in other cultural contexts (e.g., West Germany and India) radical environmentalism manifests itself quite differently, with a far greater emphasis on equity and the integration of ecological concems with livelihood and work. I conclude that despite its claims to universality, deep ecology is firmly rooted in American environmental and cultural history and is inappropriate when applied to the Third World.
35. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Charles T. Rubin Environmental Policy and Environmental Thought: Commoner and Ruckelshaus
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A close examination of the major works of Barry Commoner provides insight into some of the assumptions that characterize current environmental debate, particularly over the risk/benefit approach brought to the EPA by William Ruckelshaus . Commoner’s analysis of environmental problems depends much more on what Ruckelshaus would call his own “vision of how we want the world to be” than on scientificfindings. I trace this vision through Commoner’s commitment to socialist political change to a profound belief in the ability of technology to rationalize man' s relationship to nature. I argue that this widely shared but utopian perspective hampers the serious consideration of environmental issues, even by those who, like Ruckelshaus, believe that they are presenting an alternative to it.
36. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Jim Cheney Postmodern Environmental Ethics: Ethics of Bioregional Narrative
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Recent developments in ethics and postmodemist epistemology have set the stage for a reconceptualization of environmental ethics. In this paper, I sketch a path for postmodemism which makes use of certain notions current in contemporary environmentalism. At the center of my thought is the idea of place: (1) place as the context of our lives and the setting in which ethical deliberation takes place; and (2)the epistemological function of place in the construction of our understandings of self, community, and world. Central to these themes, in tum, are the related notions of myth, narrative, storied residence, and ethical vernacular.
37. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Merrit P. Drucker The Military Commander’s Responsibility for the Environment
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I argue that military commanders have professional responsibilities for the environment in both peace and war. Peacetime responsibilities arise out of the commander’s general responsibilities as an agent of the state. Wartime responsibilities are part of the commander’s responsibility to protect noncombatants and to protect an environment that is the inherently valuable heritage of mankind. Commanders must assurne some risk to protect the environment. I conclude that we must stop not only the environmental damage caused by war, but also war itself if we are to remain a viable species.
38. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Douglas Crawford-Brown, Neil E. Pearce Sufficient Proof in the Scientific Justification of Environmental Actions
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Environmental actions require a willingness to act, which, in turn, is stimulated partially by the belief that an action will yield the desired consequences. In determining whether an actor was justified in exerting the will to act, therefore, it is essential to examine the nature of evidence offered by the actor in support of any beliefs about the environment. In this paper we explore the points in environmental risk analyses at which evidence is brought to bear in support of inferences conceming environmental effects of regulatory actions. The intent is to provide a framework for discussing the manner in which evidence may provide a sufficient basis for ethically sound decisions for environmental actions.
39. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Robyn Eckersley Diving Evolution: The Ecological Ethics of Murray Bookchin
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I provide an exposition and critique of the ecological ethics of Murray Bookchin. First, I show how Bookchin draws on ecology and evolutionary biology to produce a mutually constraining cluster of ethical guidelines to underpin and justify his vision of a nonhierarchical, ecological society. I then critically examine Bookchin’s method of justification and the normative consequences that flow from his position. I argue that Bookchin’s enticing promise that his ecological ethics offers the widest realm of freedom to all life forms is undermined by the way in which he distinguishes and privileges second nature (the human realm) over first nature (the nonhuman realm). I conclude that Bookchin’s promise can only be delivered by a biocentric philosophy (which he rejects) rather than by his own ecological ethics.
40. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 11 > Issue: 3
John P. Clark Marx’s Inorganic Body
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Attempts to find an authentically ecological outlook in Marx’s philosophy of nature are ultimately unsuccessful. Although Marx does at times point the way toward a truly ecological dialectic, he does not himself follow that way. Instead, he proposes a problematic of technological liberation and mastery of nature that preserves many of the dualisms of that tradition of domination with which he ostensibly wishes to break.