The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics

Volume 2, 2000

Environmental Challenges to Business

Bryan G. Norton
Pages 159-165

Clearing the Way for a Life-Centered Ethic for Business
A Response to Freeman and Reichart

I agree with much of Freeman and Reichart’s paper; so, by way of comment, I will simply supplement his argument in two ways. First, agreeing with their conclusion that we can, and should, re-direct business toward environmental protection without embracing a nonanthropocentric ethic, I will show that the pre-occupation of recent and contemporary environmental ethics with the anthropocentrism/non-anthropocentrism debate is avoidable. It rests on a misinterpretation of possible moral responses to the arrogance with which Western science, technology, and culture has treated nature. A better understanding of the history of the idea of nonanthropocentrism will, I believe, strengthen Freeman and Reichart’s case for pluralism in environmental ethics and values. Second, I will emphasize several points that seem to me to fit well with Freeman and Reichart’s approach, and which would provide important detailing for the type of approach he sketches, arguing that much hard intellectual work stands between us and a satisfactory, and useful, but pluralistic, and life-centered ethic for business and the environment.