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1. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
News and Notes
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2. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Jame Schaefer Imprudence and Intergenerational Injustice: The Ongoing Vices of Opting for Nuclear Fueled Electricity
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Despite the U.S. government’s failure to isolate from the biosphere the highly radioactive spent fuel that has been accumulating at nuclear power plants for sixty years, some governmental officials, scientists, nuclear industrialists, and environmentalists are urging increased reliance on nuclear-generated electricity as part of the strategy to mitigate global warming. An ethical analysis of their proposal is warranted, and one promising approach is the theologically grounded process of making prudent decisions like those that Thomas Aquinas outlined and explained in the thirteenth century. Following his detailed method of discovering the facts, identifying a justifiable course of action, and commanding its implementation, it can be concluded that adding more nuclear capacity to our nation’s energy mix is imprudent and will produce intergenerational injustice until the isolation of the spent fuel at existing plants is underway and space is assured for the spent fuel removed from new nuclear reactors. The primary motivation for converting from the ongoing national vices of imprudence and intergenerational injustice to a nation characterized by the virtues of prudence and justice is love for others when expressed and demonstrated inclusively.
3. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Debra J. Erickson The Case for Casuistry in Environmental Ethics
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Casuistry, or case-based reasoning, should be used in environmental ethics. Casuistry came to prominence during the transition from medieval to modern, when historical circumstances challenged settled moral perspectives. Similarly, environmental ethics arose in response to real-life dilemmas that also challenged existing moral theories. Casuistry’s focus on cases means that it can resolve individual environmental dilemmas without needing to solve every other problem (theoretical or practical) in the field. It is a “taxonomic” form of moral reasoning that operates by analogy to paradigm cases, appeals to authorities in the field, and application of moral rules of thumb. Analogy to just-war reasoning and medical ethics and appeal to ecological reasoning yields four basic principles for environmental casuistry, justice, prudence, diversity, and a presumption toward preservation, and provides guidance in selecting paradigms and sources of authority within the field of environmental ethics.
discussion papers
4. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Kalpita Bhar Paul, Meera Baindur Leopold’s Land Ethic in the Sundarbans: A Phenomenological Approach
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Leopold’s land ethic is a watershed event in environmental ethics as it is the first one to provide an alternative conceptualization of land to transcend its “Abrahamic conception.” However, if Leopold had employed phenomenological methods to formulate his land ethic, then his conceptualization of land and the understanding of its relation with its dwellers could have been more nuanced. From an analysis of the Sundarbans islanders’ phenomenological accounts of land, collected during a field study, it can be shown that phenomenological understanding of land negates the Abrahamic notions of the Sundarbans’s land, which are deeply rooted in developmental as well as ecological conservation programs that the region is presently witnessing. As an alternative, such a phenomenological approach can enhance Leopold’s land ethic by providing an opportunity to see land in its true form, instead of conceptual­izing land “in order to” maintain the integrity of a land pyramid. In this manner, it helps to broaden the horizon of the land ethic and transforms the conceptualization of land itself.
5. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Samantha Clark Nothing Really Matters: Jean-Paul Sartre, Negation, and Nature
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Arguments set out by Timothy Morton, Ted Toadvine, and J. Baird Callicott et al. suggest that the remedy to the dualistic account that places “human” in binary opposition to “nature” is not to deny difference, but to understand the process of differentiation in a way that recognizes our interdependence, and yet still leaves space for the unknowable “Otherness” of nature. Callicott et al. argue that Aldo Leopold’s land ethic authentically recognizes the difference and freedom of wild animal Others, arguing that Levinas’ ethics of the Other is really a “same-based” ethics in disguise. Morton and Toadvine have considered ways in which another aspect of Levinas’ thought, the “il y a” (the “there is”), could be a means by which we might understand “wild” nature. A more metaphysical understanding of Levinas’ “face” recognizes the Other’s unknowability, but frames the ethical relation as external. Jean-Paul Sartre’s account of negation and human reality as “lack” frames this relation as one that arises internally, and thus can usefully inform the strand of environmental thought that is concerned with acknowledging the irreducible Otherness of nature.
6. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Mark Michael Environmental Pragmatism, Community Values, and the Problem of Reprehensible Implications
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Environmental pragmatists such as Bryan Norton and Ben Minteer argue that environmental philosophers should look to the values of real people and communities to determine which environmental policies and legislation should be put into place. But they want to avoid a kind of simplistic relativism, since that view entails all sorts of reprehensible conclusions about what is right and wrong and what is valuable, both generally and with respect to the environment. Their solution is to distinguish between the community’s surface or apparent values and its true values—the community’s true values serve as the basis for the moral appraisal and justification of policies and legislation, and they believe that these will neither endorse nor justify reprehensible principles or policies. The community’s true values, according to Norton, are those that survive a critical, deliberative process. However, there is no reason to think that the process described by Norton will yield normatively better values—values that do not have reprehensible implications. Even if the process described by Norton were to have this effect, he cannot consistently appeal to it, since it runs counter to his overall account of value as being nothing more than actual instances of real people caring about and valuing something. If value is a function of what people actually value here and now, then what people would value under conditions that are unlikely to occur is irrelevant to what is valuable and what can count as the true values of a community. Thus, Norton’s view, and environmental pragmatism, at least to the extent that Norton’s account is representative of that view, remains susceptible to the reprehensible implications problem.
7. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Ovadia Ezra Global Distributive Justice: An Environmental Perspective
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The environmental crisis in general, especially the problem of global warming, as well as the poverty and distress that a large part of the world experiences, demands a solution in terms of global distributive justice. This solution should focus on greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere throughout the world. If developed countries think that they have the right to do whatever they like with regard to the natural resources that are within their territories which then affect global greenhouse emissions, then developing countries should have the same right with regard to such emissions above their territories when they consequently make uninhibited and unrestrained use of their own resources. Rich countries that reject this idea have to accept the idea that they should share part of their wealth with poor countries when they ask them to engage in restrained development.
book reviews
8. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Andrea R. Gammon Emplotting Virtue: A Narrative Approach to Environmental Virtue Ethics
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9. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Brian Treanor The Wisdom of Frugality: Why Less is More—More or Less
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