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1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
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2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Robert Briggs Wild Thoughts: A Deconstructive Environmental Ethics
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Although environmental ethics has become more familiar and comfortable with the work of postmodernism, “deconstruction” in particular continues to be depicted as “destructive” and “nihilistic.” A close examination of some specific works of deconstruction, however, shows that, far from denying responsibilities to the environment, deconstruction seeks to affirm a radical obligation toward the “other.” Because this possibility is habitually ruled out by denunciations of deconstruction’s imputed relativism, I begin with a dramatized account of the possible reception of deconstruction within environmental ethics in order to stage the ethical implications of modes of criticism. I then discuss specific parallels between the work of deconstruction and that of environmental ethics, and suggest that a deconstructive spirit is at the heart of environmental philosophy’s recent—and most important—work on the question of “universal consideration.”
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Mark A. Michael How to Interfere with Nature
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The principle that we should not interfere with nature plays a prominent role in both popular and academic accounts of environmental ethics. For example, it is often cited to justify the claims that we should not actively manage wilderness areas and that we should not extinguish naturally occurring fires in those areas. It is far from clear, however, exactly what that principle entails for our treatment of species and ecosystems. Does all human interaction with nature amount to interference? If there are different kinds of interference, are they all wrong? Might not there be such a thing as beneficial interference? Can one part of nature interfere with another, and if so, is it morally permissible or forbidden for humans to prevent this kind of interference? These questions can be answered only if we have a clear notion of interference. First, I examine one initially plausible account which takes it to be a kind of cause. One interferes with a species or ecosystem when one alters or redirects it. Second, I answer a crucial question that must be faced with regard to any theory that takes interference to be a kind of cause. If interference involves nothing more than having an effect on an ecosystem, then the activities of practically every species in an ecosystem interfere with it. However, these activities are usually thought of as legitimate or normal ecosystemic change, as essential components of the ecosystem, rather than as interference.Thus, some criterion must be proposed to distinguish between interference and the actions of other species which have an effect on an ecosystem but do not interfere with it. I look at a number of proposals and conclude that no one of them is uniquely correct. Rather, the criterion one employs to understand interference must be determined by one’s projects and goals.
discussion papers
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Robert Ayres, Jeroen van den Berrgh, John Gowdy Strong versus Weak Sustainability: Economics, Natural Sciences, and Consilience
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The meaning of sustainability is the subject of intense debate among environmental and resource economists. Perhaps no other issue separates more clearly the traditional economic view from the views of most natural scientists. The debate currently focuses on the substitutability between the economy and the environment or between “natural capital” and “manufactured capital”—a debate captured in terms of weak versus strong sustainability. In this article, we examine the various interpretations of these concepts. We conclude that natural science and economic perspectives on sustainability are inconsistent. The market-based Hartwick-Solow “weak sustainability” approach is far removed from both the ecosystem-based “Holling sustainability” and the “strong sustainability” approach of Daly and others. Each of these sustainability criteria implies a specific valuation approach, and thus an ethical position, to support monetary indicators of sustainability such as a green or sustainable Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The conflict between “weak sustainability” and “strong sustainability” is more evident in the context of centralized than decentralized decision making. In particular, firms selling “services” instead of material goods and regarding the latter as “capital” leads to decisions more or less consistent with either type of sustainability. Finally, we discuss the implications of global sustainability for such open systems as regions and countries. Open systems have not been dealt with systematically for any of the sustainability criteria.
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Catriona Sandilands Desiring Nature, Queering Ethics
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I begin from the premise that “environmentalism needs queers.” Given that desire is a significant element in environmental ethics, and that the social organization of sexual-erotic desire has important impacts on human-nonhuman interactions, queer theory promises to aid environmental thought in unraveling and challenging some of these relations. I contribute the following elements to that challenge:the social-sexual organization of natural space; the organizing effects of dominant discourses of reproductive sexuality for both political possibility and bodily experience; and the retrieval (using the works of queer theorist Elizabeth Grosz) of a queer/ecological “erotogenic ethics” based on the blurring of bodily boundaries through eroticized tactile apprehension of the (human and nonhuman) Other.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Julian H. Franklin Regan on the Lifeboat Problem: A Defense
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Tom Regan has powerfully argued that all sentient beings having some awareness of self are equal in inherent value, and that their interests where relevant must be given equal treatment. Yet Regan also contends that there are some situations in which the value of different lives should be compared and choice made between them. He supposes an overloaded lifeboat with five occupants in which all will die unless one is thrown overboard. Four of the occupants are human, one is a dog; and Regan holds that it is the dog that ought to go since its life is of less value than that of a human. Regan has thus been sharply attacked for inconsistency. Some say that the comparison of lives, even in this sort of case, contradicts the principle of equal inherent value and introduces a utilitarian calculation of benefit. Othersobject that no ground of choice exists in situations of this sort. But all these criticisms turn out to be unjustified.
book reviews
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Don Marietta, Jr. The Green Halo: A Bird’s-Eye View of Ecological Ethics
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8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Rob Friedman Reading the Earth: New Directions in the Study of Literature and the Environment
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9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Philip Cafaro Dirty Virtues: Emergence of Ecological Virtue Ethics
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10. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Trish Glazebrook Earth Matters: The Earth Sciences, Philosophy, and the Claims of Community
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11. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
John Opie Managing the Environment, Managing Ourselves: A History of American Environmental Policy
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12. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Mick Smith Avalanches and Snowballs A Reply to Arne Naess
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