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Environmental Ethics

Volume 2, Issue 4, Winter 1980

Gene Spitler
Pages 339-352
DOI: 10.5840/enviroethics19802421

Sensible Environmental Principles for the Future

The attitudes of the American public toward the environmental movement may be undergoing change as the economic crunch continues and energy shortages reoccur. The principles underlying the environmental movement need to be defined and examined carefully to determine what makes sense for our changing conditions. In this paper an attempt is made to express the two primary ethical principles which have evolved from environmental thinking and, in turn, have influenced the directions taken by the movement. It is argued that these principles must not be accepted uncritically, but rather must be analyzed and subsequently modified to become compatible with more traditional ethical thinking. Such a synthesis is attempted in the paper. The modified principles can provide valuable guidance as we make difficult decisions which can influence the future path of life on Earth.

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