Cover of Environmental Ethics
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1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
News and Notes
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2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Allen Thompson, Marion Hourdequin Adapting Environmental Ethics to Rapid, Anthropogenic, and Global Ecological Change: Introduction to the Special Issue
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3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Jeremy Sorgen Beyond the Anthropocentrism Debate: An Adaptive History of Environmental Ethics
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The anthropocentrism debate, which centers on the place and status of environmental values, has been a core issue for environmental ethics since the field’s beginning in the 1970s. Nonanthropocentrists attribute value to non-human nature directly, while anthropocentrists claim that humans hold a certain priority. While the debate has produced a wide variety of interesting philosophical positions, it has not achieved its implicit goal of cultural reform. This is not because philosophers fail to agree on a tenable position, but because the debate is misconceived. Both sides of the debate assume that agreement on common values, worldviews, and substantive positions is prerequisite to cultural reform. Pragmatic criticism of this assumption, however, displays its underlying faults, while pragmatic inquiry into the field’s development displays how scholars are already generating methods more commensurate with the goal of cultural reform. Philosophers invested in changing public values should transition from debates in axiology (the study of values) to debating method, where axiology is just one method among others and not the one best suited to supporting cultural reform. A historical survey of the field suggests what scholars of environmental ethics are learning about methods that are both publicly engaged and culturally transformative.
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Levi Tenen No Intrinsic Value? No Problem: Why Nature Can Still Be Valuable for Its Own Sake
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Heirlooms and memorabilia are sometimes thought to be valuable for their own sakes even if they lack intrinsic value. They can have extrinsic final value, meaning that they can be valuable for their own sakes on account of their relation to other things. Yet if heirlooms and memorabilia can have this sort of value, then perhaps so can natural entities. If correct, this idea secures the claim that nature is valuable for its own sake without requiring that it have a normative property just in itself. Additionally, it does not commit one to the contentious view that natural entities have a more foundational value than that of persons or sentient beings. Yet it remains to be shown how, precisely, natural entities can have this sort of value. As argued here, one such way is if the given natural entity is related to something else that people are justified in valuing in a partly passive manner. This account then sheds light on the values present in a world increasingly affected by humans.
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Alexander Lee, Alex Hamilton, Benjamin Hale Conservation Floors and Degradation Ceilings: A Justificatory Architecture for Constraints in U.S. Environmental Policy
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U.S. conservation policy, both in structure and in practice, places a heavy burden on conservationists to halt development projects, rather than on advocates of development to defend their proposed actions. In this paper, we identify this structural phenomenon in several landmark environmental policies and in practice in the contemporary debate concerning oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The burdens placed on conservation can be understood in terms of constraints—as conservation ‘floors’ (or minimum standards) and degradation ‘ceilings’ (or upper limits). At base, these floors and ceilings emerge out of underlying consequentialist commitments that assume that our environmental activity can be justified by appeal primarily to ends. A series of intuition pumps guides our argument to instead shift the conservation discourse away from these consequentialist commitments to more widely justify activities on our public lands.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Evelyn Brister, Andrew E. Newhouse Not the Same Old Chestnut: Rewilding Forests with Biotechnology
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We argue that the wild release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be justified as a way of preserving species and ecosystems. We look at the case of a genetically modified American chestnut (Castanea dentata) that is currently undergoing regulatory review. Because American chestnuts are functionally extinct, a genetically modified replacement has significant conservation value. In addition, many of the arguments used against GMOs, especially GMO crops, do not hold for American chestnut trees. Finally, we show how GMOs such as the American chestnut support a reorientation of conservation values away from restoration as it has historically been interpreted, and toward an alternative framework known as rewilding.
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Thomas H. Bretz Discussing Harm without Harming: Disability and Environmental Justice
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While the disability community has long argued convincingly that disability is not a negative condition, academic and popular discourses on environmental justice routinely refer to disability as a prima facie harm to be avoided. This perpetuates the harms of ableism, and it is, furthermore, unnecessary in order to advance environmental justice. It is possible (a) to demand an investigation into the state of an environment, (b) to object to toxic environmental conditions and (c) to hold polluting parties accountable without assuming any overall difference in value or desirability between disabled and non-disabled lives.
8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Simona Capisani Territorial Instability and the Right to a Livable Locality
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Territory loss and uninhabitability characterize the current environmental background conditions of the international state system. Such conditions present pressing moral questions about our obligations to protect those who are displaced by anthropogenic climate change. By virtue of our participation in the territorial state system, understood as a social practice, we have principled grounds to address some of the consequences of the uninhabitability conditions brought on by climate change. By assuming territorial instability and employing a practice-based method of justification we can identify a fundamental, basic right protected under the state system—the right to a livable locality—which grounds a moral obligation to protect against climate change-induced displacement. Assuming territorial instability and uninhabitability compels us to recognize that the causes generating climate-displacement are not merely natural but rather deeply political and that displacement is a foreseeable failure that results because of the state system’s organizational structure.