The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 1, 1999


Matti Häyry, Tuija Takala
Pages 169-178

Biotechnology and the Environment
From Moral Objections to Ethical Analyses

Rights can be founded in a variety of ethical systems—e.g., on natural law, on the duties postulated by deontological ethics, and on the consequences of our actions. The concept of risk we will outline supports a theory of rights which provides at least individual human beings with the entitlement not to be harmed by the environmental impacts of biotechnology. The analysis can, we believe, also be extended to the rights of animals as well as ecosystems, both of which can be harmed by human actions. We argue that further examination of these harms and rights would be the best way to proceed from emotional moral objections to truly ethical analyses in the context of biotechnology and the environment.