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1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
News and Notes
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from the guest editors
2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Ricardo Rozzi, Alexandria Poole, Francisca Massardo Environmental Philosophies' Inter-Continental Dialogues
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from the conference editors
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Eric Pommier, Luca Valera Introduction to this Special Issue
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features
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Stephen M. Gardiner Motivating (or Baby-Stepping Toward) a Global Constitutional Convention for Future Generation
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Recently, I have been arguing for a global constitutional convention focused on protecting future generations. This deliberative body would be akin to the American constitutional convention of 1787, which gave rise to the present structure of government in the United States. It would confront the “governance gap” that currently exists surrounding concern for future generations. In particular, contemporary institutions tend to crowd out intergenerational concern, and thereby facilitate a “tyranny of the contemporary.” They not only fail to address a basic standing threat to humanity and other species, but help that threat become manifest. Climate change is a prime example. In this paper, I sketch out a natural argumentative path toward the global constitutional convention and argue that is difficult to resist. I also insist that we should be evenhanded in the way we treat the proposal. Those who put their faith in alternatives (e.g., the emergence of a great leader, a grand alignment of interests, bottom up climate anarchism, or national governments understood as effective intergenerational stewards) must also confront standard complaints about naivety, urgency, threats to democratic values, and the like. Moreover, the global constitutional convention has the advantage of addressing the problem we face head on.
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Ronald Sandler Should We Engineer Species in Order to Save Them?
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There are two strategies for engineering species for conservation purposes, de-extinction and gene drives. Engineering species for conservation purposes is not in principle wrong, and on common criteria for assessing conservation interventions there may well be cases in which de-extinction and gene drives are evaluated positively in comparison to other possible strategies. De-extinction is not as transformative a conservation technique as it initially appears. It is largely dependent, as a conservation activity, upon traditional conservation practices, such as captive breeding programs, species reintroductions, and habitat improvement and protection. In contrast, gene drives have the potential to significantly restructure how conservation problems are framed and approached. Gene drives are therefore a much more disruptive technology for conservation philosophy and practice.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Sandra Baquedano Jer Ecocide or Environmental Self-Destruction?
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The anthropocentric destruction of nature can be viewed as a form of self-destruction, which affects individuals and also the human species. It entails active destruction of the natural surroundings that are vital for the preservation of the planet’s biodiversity. But should ecocide, or environmental self-destruction of the life of certain species, be considered an “interruption” to the life of such species, or it is part of their natural life course? Are ecocide and environmental destruction identical, or substantively different, phenomena? Prevention of the death of biotic species, and of the massive destruction of abiotic species, constitutes the ultimate challenge for both environmental and animal ethics. Modern mass extinction of species can be understood as a form of speciesism, and the prevention of such extinction is the most urgent challenge for any ethics centered on the recognition of the value, or rights, of nonhuman species.
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Ricardo Rozzi Taxonomic Chauvinism, No More!: Antidotes from Hume, Darwin, and Biocultural Ethics
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The culture of global society commonly associates the word animal with vertebrates. Paradoxically, most of animal diversity is composed of small organisms that remain invisible in the global culture and are underrepresented in philosophy, science, and education. Twenty-first century science has revealed that many invertebrates have consciousness and the capacity to feel pain. These discoveries urge animal ethicists to be more inclusive and to reevaluate the participation of invertebrates in the moral community. Science also has warned of the disappearance of small animal co-inhabitants that is occurring in the midst of the sixth mass extinction. This “invisible extinction” compels environmental philosophers to make visible invertebrates, whose existence is precious in itself and for the functioning of ecosystems on which biodiversity and human societies depend. With a biocultural approach that integrates the biophysical and cultural dimensions of biodiversity, I investigate the roots of taxonomic chauvinism associated with the under-representation and subordination of invertebrates in modern philosophy and science. The bad news is the confirmation of a marked vertebratism in animal imagery. The good news is that David Hume, Charles Darwin, and biocultural ethics provide conceptual foundations for cultivating an appreciation of the small co-inhabitants with whom we share our local habitats and the global biosphere.
book reviews
8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Patrick Taylor Smith Daniel Edward Callies: Climate Engineering: A Normative Perspective
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9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Charles Hayes Benjamin Hale: The Wild and the Wicked: On Nature and Human Nature
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10. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
News and Notes
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features
11. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Juan Pablo Hernández Betancur Is There Common Ground between Anthropocentrists and Nonanthropocentrists?
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Despite the fact that their disagreement concerns the most basic metaethical and metaphysical questions regarding our relation to nature, it has become apparent that many anthropocentrists share with nonanthropocentrists a concern for the environment for its own sake, that is to say, a noninstrumental concern for nature. This concern is also present in practical spheres of environmental engagement. With regard to the philosophical task of justifying the claim that we ought to protect nature, this concern imposes on those that share it at least three conditions: priority, independence of future interaction, and universality. Reasonably specified, these conditions are neutral between anthropocentrism and nonanthropocentrism and should be attractive to both camps. Although there are reasons to think it would be difficult to meet all three conditions at the same time, with some modification a promising way to do it becomes apparent.
12. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Simon P. James Nature’s Indifference
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Contrary to what writers such as Hans Jonas and Val Plumwood suggest, much of nature is indifferent to human interests. Mountains, glaciers, sun-baked salt pans—such entities care neither about what interests us humans nor about what is objectively in our interests. It might be hard to see how the property of being indifferent, in this sense, could add value. But it can. For those of us who inhabit highly technological, user-friendly environments, entities such as mountains can have therapeutic value precisely because they so obviously do not care about what matters to us.
discussion papers
13. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Anna Peterson Problem Animals
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Nonhuman animals play various roles in environmental ethics, often as charismatic symbols of wilderness or active participants in the natural dramas we seek to preserve. Sometimes, however, nonhuman animals do not fit into—and may even threaten—the “nature” that we value. There are two especially problematic animals: white-tailed deer and feral cats. Together, these creatures shine light on a number of important issues in environmental ethics, including the tensions between animal welfare and environmentalism, the ways human interests and categories pervade even ecocentric perspectives, and the complex place of science in environmental ethics and advocacy. Thinking through the issues raised by debates about deer and cats can contribute to a more adequate treatment of nonhuman animals in environmental thought and advocacy.
14. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Christopher Cohoon Human Edibility, Ecological Embodiment: Plumwood and Levinas
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In her analyses of human ecological alienation, Val Plumwood implies that the recalcitrant problem of human exceptionalism is sustained in part by a kind of imaginative failure, by a certain blind spot to the ecological edibility of the human body. Among the many assumptions responsible for the blind spot, Plumwood suggests, is the liberal conception of the body as something proprietary, as something one owns. Plumwood’s work therefore establishes a new, if counterintuitive, task for environmental philosophy: to find or create models of human embodiment that do not preempt but rather enable access to edibility. One such model can be found in Emmanuel Levinas’s late concept of the pre-egoic ethical body (“recurrence”). This otherwise elusive and frequently neglected concept ought to be understood as a boldly materialist appropriation of Plotinian emanationism. So understood, it provides a path beyond the blind spot that Plumwood identifies. Taking up Levinas in this way opens a new path for environmental philosophy into his idiosyncratic thought—a path distinct, that is, from the standard extensionist maneuver of seeking nonhuman applications for his ultra-humanist notion of the face.
15. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Espen Dyrnes Stabell Existence Value, Preference Satisfaction, and the Ethics of Species Extinction
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Existence value refers to the value humans ascribe to the existence of something, regard­less of whether it is or will be of any particular use to them. This existence value based on preference satisfaction should be taken into account in evaluating activities that come with a risk of species extinction. There are two main objections. The first is that on the preference satisfaction interpretation, the concept lacks moral importance because satisfying people’s preferences may involve no good or well-being for them. However, existence value can be based on a restricted version of the preference satisfaction theory, which is not vulnerable to the skeptical arguments about the link between preference satisfaction and well-being. The second objection is that even if preference satisfaction can be linked to well-being, understanding existence value in terms of individual preference satisfaction is incoherent, because existence value reflects disinterested preferences that involve no benefits to the individual. However, the fact that existence value may involve disinterested preferences does not threaten the coherence of the concept, but suggests that it does not fit smoothly into the “utilitarian” or “welfarist” framework it is commonly considered within. A pluralistic normative approach based on prima facie duties can be an alternative to standard utilitarian-style approaches for considering existence value in concrete cases involving a risk of species extinction, such as through deep sea mining.
book reviews
16. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Erik Persson James S. J. Schwartz and Tony Milligan, eds.: The Ethics of Space Exploration
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17. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Konrad Ott Donna Haraway: Staying with the Trouble: Makng Kin in the Chthulucene
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18. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
J. Spencer Atkins Eileen Crist: Abundant Earth: Toward an Ecological Civilization
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19. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
News and Notes
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features
20. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Simon P. James Natural Meanings and Cultural Values
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In many cases, rivers, mountains, forests, and other so-called natural entities have value for us because they contribute to our well-being. According to the standard model of such value, they have instrumental or “service” value for us on account of their causal powers. That model tends, however, to come up short when applied to cases when nature contributes to our well-being by virtue of the religious, political, historical, personal, or mythic meanings it bears. To make sense of such cases, a new model of nature’s value is needed, one that registers the fact that nature can have constitutive value for us on account of the role it plays in certain meaningful wholes, such as a person’s sense of who he or she is.