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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 23, 2008

Philosophy of Environment

Wang Xinyan
Pages 155-167

How is Environmental Ethics Possible?

In the history of ethical thoughts of China and the West, ethical relations are always regarded as social relations among people, and the objects to which ethical norms apply are targeted for social business or man’s behavior. What traditional ethics concerns is ethical relationship among people or ethical feature of social business or man’s behavior. By comparison with it, environmental ethics has a good reputation for its research on ethical relationship between human being and natural environment. It has been discussing and reconstructing ethical relationship between man and nature from the very beginning, and requires ethical solicitude or moral concern for natural environment. As a result, environmental ethics has to answer the question how it is possible. However, the mainstream views in environmental ethics, based on the position of moral expansion and non-anthropocentrism, can't and won't explain how environmental ethics is possible. What environmental ethics deals with is no other than the ethical relationship between man and man represented by the relationship between man and nature, what it confirms is no other than our obligations and duties to others and next generations when dealing with the relationship between man and nature, and finally, the criterion of evaluation it pursues in dealing with the man-nature relationship is no other than the integrated and long-run interest of all human beings. All these are the ground on which the contemporary environmental ethics stands possibly.

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