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Environmental Ethics

Volume 19, Issue 3, Fall 1997

Laura Westra
Pages 279-297

Why Norton’s Approach is Insufficient for Environmental Ethics

There has been an ongoing debate about the best approach in environmental ethics. Bryan Norton believes that “weak anthropocentrism” will yield the best results for public policy, and that it is the most defensible position. In contrast, I have argued that an ecocentric, holistic position is required to deal with the urgent environmental problems that face us, and that position is complemented by the ecosystem approach and complex systems theory. I have called this approach “the ethics of integrity,” and in this paper I show why this perspective suggests better solutions to difficult cases, for which “weak anthropocentrism” fails to provide an answer.