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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 20, Issue 11/12, 2010
Environmental Ethics: Questions for the Future

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Displaying: 1-9 of 9 documents

1. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 11/12
Teresa Kwiatkowska Environmental Ethics: Questions for the Future
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2. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 11/12
Alan Holland Agriculture: the “Cinderella” of Environmental Ethics
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Since agriculture constitutes what is probably humankind’s most extensive and prolonged engagement with the natural world, the scant attention paid to it in much of the environmental ethics literature represents something of a paradox. This paper is an attempt to address that paradox. First we offer some explanations for this neglect, tracing it to some key features of environmental ethics as it is currently practised. Then we identify some hopeful signs that things are changing in a direction that is more conducive to the inclusion of the issues raised by agriculture. Finally we offer a synthesis of these hopeful signs, incorporating a suggestion as to what it is that they all have in common.
3. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 11/12
J. Baird Callicott Toward an Earth Ethic: Aldo Leopold’s Anticipation of the Gaia Hypothesis
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Aldo Leopold's 1949 Land Ethic is seminal in academic environmental ethics and the environmental-ethic-of-choice among professional conservationists and environmentalists. After sixty years, the sciences (evolutionary biology and ecology) that inform the land ethic have undergone much change. The land ethic can be revised to accommodate changes in its scientific foundations, but it cannot be scaled up to meet the challenge of global climate change. Fortunately, given the prominent place of Leopold in all circles environmental, he also faintly sketched an Earth Ethic in a paper written in 1923 and published posthumously in 1979. The Earth Ethic is informed less by ecology and evolutionary biology than by biogeochemistry and anticipates the Gaia Hypothesis, viz., that the Earth (or biosphere) is a whole, living being. If so Leopold thought it a worthy object of moral respect.
4. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 11/12
Philip Cafaro The Way Forward for Environmental Ethics: Ending Growth and Creating Sustainable Societies
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The overarching goal of environmentalism as a political movement is the creation of sustainable societies that share resources fairly among people, and among people and other species. The core objectives of environmental philosophy should include articulating the ideals and principles of such just and generous sustainability, arguing for them among academics and in the public sphere, and working out their implications in particular areas of our environmental decision-making. That means challenging the goodness of endless economic growth and helping other environmental thinkers specify plausible and appealing alternatives to the economic status quo. It means ending our craven failure to honestly address population issues. It means committing to living according to our own environmental ideals. Interestingly, the mainstream philosophical tradition has some important, underutilized resources that, combined with new andcreative thinking, can help us achieve these goals and keep ethical philosophy relevant to meeting the challenges of the 21st century.
5. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 11/12
Joel Jay Kassiola The Social Power of Environmental Ethics: How Environmental Ethics Can Help Save the World through Social Criticism and Social Change
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Environmental ethics has an identity and public image problem. Unlike the other applied ethics subfields like biomedical or business ethics, environmental ethics is surprisingly devalued and even rejected as a possible contributor to confronting effectively the global environmental crisis by anti-environmental philosophers and public policy analysts. Thus, environmental ethics has many critics, both within and outside of philosophy, who strongly challenge the contemporary, practical social relevance of this academic field.In contrast to this critical viewpoint, this essay argues for the profound significance of environmental ethics to the environmental crisis, and, in that way, seeks to present a successful rebuttal to the misguided critiques of this area of philosophy. The argument aims to demonstrate how environmental ethics can facilitate social criticism of the prevailing modern social values and the social institutions associated with the market or consumer capitalist society built upon them. My approach will center its insights and prescriptions upon the philosophical grounding of the collective movement for ecologically-and ethically-based social criticism and social change.I conclude the essay by emphasizing: 1) the normative nature of environmental problems (as opposed to an exclusive scientific or technological conception of such problems), and 2) environmental ethics and philosophy as powerful catalysts for necessary social change in order to save the world through social criticism of the status quo ecologically unsustainable and unethical (exemplified by unjust) modern social values such as, limitless economic growth. These points support the upshot that much more is at stake in the controversy over the nature and value of environmental ethics than the typical academic debate: nothing less then the fate of our planet.
6. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 11/12
Victor Manuel Velazco Herrera, Oscar Sosa Flores The Trend of the Dansgaard-Oescher Cycle with Solar Activity
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The nature of the climatic response to solar variability is assessed over a long-time scale, as in the case of the periodicity of 1500 years (Dansgaard-Oeschger cycle). For this reason it is important to perform an analysis to detect the existence of this periodicity in the Holocene and the possible influence of the sun on this periodicity. For this purpose, the method of Wavelet analysis in time-frequency was used. The information of oxygen isotopes (δ18O) and Berilium-10 (10Be) at the North Pole reveals a periodicity of approximately 1000 years, whereas at the South Pole it shows the existence of a periodicity of about 1500 years. The comparison of the information of δ18O and 10Be suggests a possible solar influence on the appearance of these periodicities. Possibly the current global warming is due to Dansgaard-Oescher cycle and not by anthropogenic effects.
7. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 11/12
Ricardo Rozzi Field Environmental Philosophy: Regaining an Understanding of the Inextricable Links between the Regional Habitats, the Inhabitants and their Habits
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During our current free market era, a prevailing utilitarian ethics centered on monetary cost benefit analyses continues overriding incessantly a plethora of diverse forms of ecological knowledge and ethics present in the communities of South America, and other regions of the world. For the first time in human history, more than 50% of the world’s population lives in cities, and speaks only one of eleven dominant languages, loosing contact with the vast biodiversity and the 7,000 languages that are still spoken around the planet. This global urban enclosure and biocultural homogenization generates physical barriers and conceptual barriers that hinder the understanding of the inextricable links between the habitats of a region, the inhabitants and their habits. However, these vital links are acutely recognized in at least three families of worldviews: contemporary ecological sciences, ancestral Amerindian ecological knowledge, and Western pre-Socratic philosophical roots expressed in the archaic meaning of ethos, and ethics. South American post-Columbian history shows that large-scale exploitation, as well as monocultures that replace native habitats, have been repeatedly associated with ephemeral economic booms that left behind degraded social and ecological environments. A historical analysis of post-Columbian Chile illustrates how a unique mosaic of ecosystems and biological species, cultures, and languages have been progressively replaced by a few biological species and a uniform language and culture. These biocultural homogenization processes are the outcome of a violent conquest, overpowering the resistance of local inhabitants, and today’s scale of violent suppression of biological and cultural diversity is greater than ever. Instead of a post-colonial period we are living in the middle of an ultra-colonial era. To counterbalance these trends, at the southern end of the Americas, through inter-institutional and international collaborations led by the Chilean University of Magallanes and the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity and the University of North Texas in the US, we developed a methodological approach that we call “field environmental philosophy."
8. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 11/12
Teresa Kwiatkowska, Wojciech Szatzschneider In Quest for a Solution to Environmental Deterioration: Uses and Abuses of Uncertainty and Models
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Adverse environmental and economic impacts of Icelandic volcano triggered discussions about nature’s astounding and unpredictable fury, alongside the inadequacy of human ingenuity and science to deal with factors that are totally independent and practically impossible to control.The first part of this article discusses questions related to understanding of deep uncertainty and possibility of effectively combining qualitative and quantitative analysis. Apparently the problem of incorporating surprise, critical threshold and abrupt changes is well studied in finance, but its poor application led to the latest financial crisis. It would be far more complicated when applied to complex or “wicked” events like deforestation, the conservation of endangered species, industrial pollution and climate change. The authors identify a range of problems in global idea of ‘sustainability’ and explore complexity of uncertainty. The second part reviews innovative approach that pretends to reconcile the needs of local communities with the protection of the natural world.
9. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 11/12
Lesław Michnowski Global Governance and Information for the World Society’s Sustainable Development
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The current crisis is an open phase of a global crisis. It is a result of a false recognition of this structural crisis, previously described in the Limits to Growth Report. This crisis is not a result of overpopulation, but of the world society's maladjustment to life in a State of Change and Risk. In this rather new situation, obsolescence (moral destruction) of life-forms not adapted to new life-conditions is the main life-destroying and crisis-generating factor.To permanently overcome this crisis, we have to reinforce the UN “three pillars” world society sustainable development strategy by including into it the task of building an information basis of sustainable-development policy and economy (including a global early warning system). To achieve sustainable development, what we also need to create includes a subsidiarity-principle-based UN Sustainable Development Council with the World Sustainable Development Strategy Center, including the UN Global Dynamic Monitoring Information Center.