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1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
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2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
FROM THE EDITOR: Environmental Ethics and the Culture War
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3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Ben A. Minteer Biocentric Farming?: Liberty Hyde Bailey and Environmental Ethics
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Most environmental ethicists adhere to a standard intellectual history of the field, one that explains and justifies the dominant commitments to nonanthropocentrism, moral dualism, and wilderness/wildlife preservation. Yet this narrative—which finds strong support in the work of first generation environmental historians—is at best incomplete. It has tended to ignore those philosophical projects and thinkers in the American environmental tradition that challenge the received history and the established conceptual categories and arguments of environmental ethics. One such figure is the agrarian thinker, conservationist, and rural reformer, Liberty Hyde Bailey. A writer whose environmental philosophy combined biocentric attitudes toward nature with more humanistic concerns about intergenerational fairness and civic responsibility, Bailey remains an invisible figure in environmental ethics, despite his clear influence on the later work of such conservation luminaries as Aldo Leopold, Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, and others. We would benefit from a recovery of Bailey’s environmental philosophy, especially his articulation of a pluralistic ethical outlook defined by the melding of anthropocentric moral and civic concerns with biocentric commitments regarding the beauty and resilience of the properly cultivated landscape.
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Brian Treanor Narrative Environmental Virtue Ethics: Phronesis without a Phronimos
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It is increasingly clear that virtue ethics has an important role to play in environmental ethics. However, virtue ethics—which has always been characterized by a degree of ambiguity—is faced with substantial challenges in the contemporary “postmodern” cultural milieu. Among these challenges is the lure of relativism. Most virtue ethics depend upon some view of the good life; however, today there is no unambiguous, easily agreed-upon account of the good life. Rather, we are presented with a bewildering variety of conflicting accounts of the good life. Narrative—in particular Paul Ricoeur’s account of narrative identity—has much to contribute to virtue ethics, including resources that can help us respond to the chal­lenges presented by the postmodern context. Narrative constitutes an “ethical laboratory” by providing us with an “as if” experience through which we can try out various ethical alternatives. Two sorts of environmental narratives, working in concert, further help to limit relativist objections: (1) narratives of environmental survival (which identify dispositions, such as simplicity, necessary for our long-term survival) and (2) narratives of environmental flourishing (which make a virtue of necessity by pointing out those dispositions necessary for our survival often contribute to our flourishing beyond mere survival).
discussion papers
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Scott Friskics The Twofold Myth of Pristine Wilderness: Misreading the Wilderness Act in Terms of Purity
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In recent years, the notion of wilderness has been roundly criticized by several prominent environmental philosophers and historians. They argue that the “received wilderness idea” is dualistic, ethnocentric, and static. According to these critics, this idea of wilderness finds clear expression in the Wilderness Act of 1964. However, the idea of wilderness so ably deconstructed by its critics bears little resemblance to the understanding of wilderness presented in the Wilderness Act. The critics assume a backward-looking, purity-based definition of wilderness that runs counter to the forward-looking, relativistic interpretation of the Wilderness Act that has guided and informed subsequent wilderness legislation, management, and visitation. Under the Wilderness Act, wilderness designation is less a matter of preserving remnants of “pristine” nature than establishing a covenant between humans and a particular place. Wilderness areas, so conceived, serve as potential sabbath places, whose ultimate significance is best understood in terms of their mutually informing relationship to the places where we live and work. Rather than detracting from our efforts to inhabit the Earth in more creative and sustainable ways, wilderness represents a vital part of larger landscapes of human inhabitation characterized by a diverse mixture of human-nature relational patterns.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Karánn Durland The Prospects of a Viable Biocentric Egalitarianism
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At a minimum, a satisfactory biocentric egalitarianism must satisfy three constraints: (1) it must demand enough to deserve the name biocentric; (2) it must not require so much that it makes a worthwhile or at least a recognizably human life impossible; and (3) it must not be incoherent or internally inconsistent. Neither rule-based forms of biocentric egalitarianism nor virtue theory versions meet all three requirements. The rule-based accounts that Paul Taylor and James Sterba introduce contain serious defects, and many of these problems appear in any rule-based biocentric egalitarianism, making all such approaches untenable. The egalitarian virtue theories suggested by Albert Schweitzer, Kenneth Goodpaster, and Jason Kawall are too promissory to be useful or fully assessed, but an overlooked virtue-based account that Taylor defends is more detailed and fatally flawed. Since its difficulties appear in any fully developed virtue-ethic version of biocentric egalitarianism, virtue-based approaches fare no better than rule-based ones. Given the problems that both rule-based and virtue theory forms of biocentric egalitarianism face, the prospects for a viable biocentric egalitarianism are bleak.
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Ty Raterman An Environmentalist’s Lament on Predation
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That some animals need to prey on others in order to live is lamentable. While no one wants predators to die of starvation, a world in which no animal needed to prey on others would, in some meaningful sense, be a better world. Predation is lamentable for four primary reasons: (1) predation often inflicts pain on prey animals; (2) it often frustrates prey animals’ desires; (3) anything other than lamentation—which would include relishing predation as well as being indifferent to it—is in tension with sensitivity to many other forms of hardship and suffering; and (4) lamenting is demanded by the virtues of compassion and gentleness. One can lament predation even while acknowledging respects in which predation is genuinely praiseworthy. One can esteem admirable traits developed through and displayed in predation without esteeming the mechanism through which they are developed or the activity in which they are displayed. In addition, appreciating the check on population that predation provides does not preclude lamenting predation. While holding these positions does involve (in some sense) opposing nature itself and failing to appreciate predators for exactly what they are, doing so does not disqualify a person as an environmentalist. Finally, one can lament predation without being logically committed thereby to preventing or disrupting it.
book reviews
8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Melanie Perrault African American Environmental Thought: Foundations
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9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Robert Kirkman Ecological Politics and Democratic Theory: The Challenge to the Deliberative Ideal
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10. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Lloyd Steffen The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Ecology
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11. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
T. R. Kover, Nathan Kowalsky On Nature, Human Identity, and Straw Men
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12. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Referees 2008
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13. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Index for 2008
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14. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3
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15. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3
FROM THE EDITOR: About this Issue
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16. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3
Ricardo Rozzi, Juan J. Armesto, Robert Frodeman Integrating Ecological Sciences and Environmental Ethics into Biocultural Conservation
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17. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3
J. Baird Callicott What “Wilderness” in Frontier Ecosystems?
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Wilderness, for seventeenth-century Puritan colonists in America, was hideous and howling. In the eighteenth century, Puritan preacher and theologian, Jonathan Edwards, began the process of transforming the American wilderness into an aesthetic and spiritual resource, a process completed in the nineteenth century by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Henry David. Thoreau was the first American to recommend wilderness preservation for purposes of transcendental recreation (solitude, and aesthetic and spiritual experience). In the twentieth century, Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold advocated wilderness preservation for a different kind of recreation (hunting, fishing, and primitive travel) in order to preserve the putatively unique American character and institutions. Of these three historic conceptions of wilderness preservation, the third is the best model for frontier ecosystems at the austral tip of the Americas.
18. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3
Sergio Guevara, Javier Laborde The Landscape Approach: Designing New Reserves for Protection of Biological and Cultural Diversity in Latin America
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One of the greatest challenges for Latin America and the Caribbean, the most biologically and culturally diverse region in the world, is to halt the loss of species caused by habitat destruction and land degradation. Up to now, setting aside protected natural areas is con­sidered the most effective alternative to conserve biodiversity. Protected areas, however, are under increasing assault by agricultural, silvicultural, and industrial development that surround and isolate them, reducing their habitat quality at the landscape scale. Among the different types of protected areas that have been proposed, biosphere reserves stand out for their attempt to compatibilize social development and conservation. Their management is the most amenable to integration of natural and human disturbance, inclusion of traditional management techniques, and participation by social and economic sectors in the administration. Biosphere reserves have proliferated all over the world, and today there are 531 of them located in 105 countries, where they protect vast ecological and cultural diversity. Even though the design of biosphere reserves is based on the landscape concept, it has yet to take into account ecosystem scales, possible long-term effects of disturbances, and better integrate and give higher consideration to the knowledge and experience of numerous ethnic groups that live within them. However, doing so requires a transformation of the function of the core, buffer, and transition areas. The current design of biosphere reserves is centripetal because the main function of the buffer zone is to protect biodiversity in the core. We pro­pose a centrifugal model, where biodiversity of the core spreads freely toward the area of greater human influence with the buffer zone functioning as a connector. This connectivity can promote land-use practices that are in alignment with both ecosystems functioning and biodiversity conservation in natural, semi-natural, urban and industrial landscapes.
19. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3
Eugene C. Hargrove A Traditional and Multicultural Approach to Environmental Ethics at Primary and Secondary School Levels
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Translating environmental ethics into something that can be taught at the primary and secondary school levels may never be feasible. In addition, what needs to be taught may vary in different cultures around the world. A good noncontroversial starting point may be to begin with the values that are often listed in the purpose statements of environmental laws. Teachers could teach the history of ideas behind those values and their relationship to environmental concern. This approach is needed as a counter to the value approach of modern economics which treats noneconomic values as meaningless expressions of personal emotion. Comparative value discussion can be used to clarify traditional values and in countries with indigenous populations with values originating in different histories of ideas, such as the values of the First Nation peoples in Canada and the Mapuche in Chile, which can be used to promote better understanding between major social groups.
20. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3
Uta Berghöfer, Ricardo Rozzi, Kurt Jax Local versus Global Knowledge: Diverse Perspectives on Nature in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve
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A case study of socio-ecological research conducted in Puerto Williams, Chile reveals that persons belonging to different sociocultural groups in Cape Horn have a diversity of perspectives and relationships with nature. For example, a strong sense of home and belonging was expressed by the indigenous Yahgan community and by old residents, mostly descendents of early twentieth-century colonizers. However, people identified with resource use did not include positive answers for a sense of home. The concept of common land presented marked contrasts among respondents. Those identified with a cultivating type of relationship favored private property over public land. For respondents identified with an embedded type of relationship, freedom of movement was one of their most essential values. Some respondents identified with resource use and those identified with intellectual and aesthetic relationships with nature also valued common land. The approach used in this study transforms polarized and dichotomous notions into gradients of perspectives related to different degrees of local and global ecological and cultural environments. The resulting hybrid vision of perspectives on nature may be helpful in times of global change, where both local and global scales contribute to identify specific problematic asymmetries as well as opportunities for communication among different sociocultural groups.