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101. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Bruce Morito Examining Ecosystem Integrity
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Attempts to come to grip with what appears to be the autonomy of nature have developed into several schools of thought. Among the most influential of these schools is the ecosystem integrity approach to environmental ethics, management and policy. The philosophical arm of the approach has been spearheaded by Laura Westra and her work in An Environmental Proposal for Ethics. The emphasis that this school places on pristine wilderness to model ecosystem integrity and the arguments Westra devises to justify the application of what she calls the “principle of integrity,” although clear in its goal and object of inquiry, could very well retrench dualistic thinking of the sort that environmental thinkers have been trying to undermine. More importantly, I argue that Westra misses an important implication for the way in which ecosystem integrity could be used to help develop an ethic not so confined by problems of justification in attaching values to facts and descriptions to prescriptions.
102. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Christopher B. Barrett, Ray Grizzle A Holistic Approach to Sustainability Based on Pluralism Stewardship
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In this paper, we advance a holistic ecological approach based on a three-compartment model. This approach favors policy initiatives that lie at the intersection of the three major areas of concern common to most environmental controversies: environmental protection, provision of basic human needs, and advancing economic welfare. In support of this approach, we propose a “pluralistic stewardship”integrating core elements of anthropocentrism, biocentrism, and ecocentrism. After presenting the basics of our model, we then explain why it is important to identify and promote a holistic ecological approach to sustainability. Here we employ the economic concept of path dependence, emphasizing that there exist multiple paths society can follow in environmental ethics and policy but once one has been chosen, implicitly or explicitly, there may be little opportunity to reverse such choices.
103. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Dean W. Boening Biotechnology and Environmental Pollution
104. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Ned Hettinger, Bill Throop Refocusing Ecocentrism: De-emphasizing Stability and Defending Wildness
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Traditional ecocentric ethics relies on an ecology that emphasizes the stability and integrity of ecosystems. Numerous ecologists now focus on natural systems that are less clearly characterized by these properties. We use the elimination and restoration of wolves in Yellowstone to illustrate troubles for traditional ecocentric ethics caused by ecological models emphasizing instability in natural systems. We identify several other problems for a stability-integrity based ecocentrism as well. We show how an ecocentric ethic can avoid these difficulties by emphasizing the value of the wildness of natural systems and we defend wildness value from a rising tide of criticisms.
105. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Philip Cafaro Personal Narratives and Environmental Ethics
106. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Mathew Humphrey Deep Ecology and the Irrelevance of Morality: A Response
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In his article “Deep Ecology and the Irrelevance of Morality,” Eric H. Reitan contends that, contrary to the disavowals of Fox and Naess, the “ecosophy T” concept of “Self-realization” constitutes a precondition of morality according to a “robust” Kantian moral framework. I suggest that there is a significant problem involved in rendering Self-realization compatible with a Kantian moral framework. This problem of ontological priority demonstrates that Naess and Fox are in fact correct in their assertion that Self-realization is a nonmoral phenomenon.
107. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 3
Colin H. Simonds The Trouble of Rocks and Waters: On the (Im)Possibility of a Buddhist Environmental Ethic
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This article considers the possibility of constructing an authentic environmental ethic from Buddhist sources. It first outlines the major critiques of historical Buddhist approaches to the natural world and parses some of the philological and linguistic barriers to such a construction. It then considers some of the recent philosophical critiques of such a project and reviews the major points of tension between the Buddhist philosophical tradition and the kinds of environmental ethics found in the land ethic and deep ecology. Ultimately, this article asserts that such tension is relieved if we begin from Buddhist philosophical principles and construct an environmental ethic from the ground up. It argues a Buddhist environmental ethic emerges from the combination of the goal of liberating all sentient beings from duḥkha, an understanding of duḥkha as dependently arising, and a novel recognition of the environment as a major cause of this duḥkha.
108. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 3
Yasha Rohwer Evolution Is Not Good
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Many environmental ethicists think evolutionary processes are good or, put differently, that they are morally valuable. Furthermore, many claim this value can be compromised when humans disrupt or cause a break in these processes. In this paper, I argue this account is mistaken. Evolution is not good. Furthermore, evolution cannot be “broken” by mere human involvement. There is no preordained trajectory in evolution; randomness, genetic drift, and historical contingency influence all evolutionary histories. Additionally, to think humans necessarily undermine so-called “natural” processes and turn them artificial is to ignore Vogel (2011, 2015), and insist on pre-Darwinian dualism. There is no morally meaningful distinction between natural selection and artificial selection; they are both simply selection. Furthermore, animals shape their own evolutionary trajectories, their progenies’, and those of other organisms through their intentions and choices—as is illustrated in the theory of niche construction. Human involvement in evolutionary processes does not “break” them nor does it necessarily reduce the value of the end products of those processes.
109. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 3
Philip Cafaro Procreation and Consumption in the Real World
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The cause of global environmental decline is clear: an immense and rapidly growing human economy. In response, environmentalists should advocate policies leading to fewer people, lower per capita consumption, and less harmful technologies. All three of these must be addressed, not just one instead of the others. That is our best remaining hope to create sustainable societies and preserve what global biodiversity remains. Sharing Earth justly with other species and protecting it for future human generations are achievable goals, but only if we recognize limits to growth, show restraint in both consumption and procreation, replace maximizing thinking with sufficiency thinking, and cultivate gratitude for what we receive from nature. Efficiency cannot take the place of ethics. Cleverness cannot take the place of wisdom. Humanity must learn to recognize and appreciate ‘enough.’
110. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 3
Kalle Grill Procreation vs. Consumption: Harms and Benefits
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Recently, it has been argued by several scholars that we have moral reasons to limit our procreation due to the harmful environmental consequences it entails. These calls for procreative restraint are typically made in relation to other lifestyle choices, such as minimizing driving and air travel. In such comparisons, it is assumed that the environmental impact of procreation encompasses the lifetime consumption of the child created, and potentially that of further descendants. After an overview of these arguments, I go on to provide an examination of the main benefits of procreation, in relation to those of consumption, i.e., other lifestyle choices. My normative assumption is that benefits hold moral relevance, alongside harms. Procreation may benefit procreators and may provide more collective benefits. Some benefits tend to preempt the environmental impact associated with procreation. I conclude that the benefits of procreation are substantial and typically greater than those of consumption.
111. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 3
Travis N. Rieder Contributory Reasons For and Against Procreation: Reply to Grill
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Procreative limitarians, according to Kalle Grill, believe that we—especially the globally wealthy—should limit our procreative behaviors in order to reduce our impact on the natural environment. However, according to Grill, limitarians tend not to perform a complete moral analysis of procreating, as they cite the costs without noting the substantial benefits. In particular, Grill argues that procreation has benefits that consumption lacks, which is relevant for deciding where to focus in our efforts to mitigate environmental harms. As one of the limitarians cited by Grill, I think this is an interesting argument to consider, but I will here suggest that it does not succeed in fully responding to the force of the limitarian position.
112. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 3
Corey Katz What We Owe to Animals: Recognizing Animals’ Negative Rights by Making Contractualism Inclusive
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The author argues non-human, sentient animals have aggregation-trumping rights by explaining why and how they should be included in the scope of Kantian contractualism. He explains that the beings to whom we owe duties—who can be wronged by our treatment—are all those with the capacity for first-person, subjective experience; i.e., all sentient beings. To determine what duties we owe to such beings, we should reflect on the principles for the general regulation of behavior that could be hypothetically justified to their imaginary perfectly reasonable counterparts; i.e., even though animals actually cannot understand or reflect on the reasons we have for treating them in a particular way, burdening them unjustifiably is wrong to them. The author argues this inclusive contractualist theory can explain all the distinctive moral phenomena that T. M. Scanlon’s approach does and so is a more attractive contractualist moral theory.
113. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 4
Marion Hourdequin, Katie McShane Guest Editors' Introduction to the 2022 ISEE Special Issue
114. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 4
Alina Anjum Ahmed Colonialism, Environmental Policy, and Epistemic Injustice
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This paper explores environmental protection policies and initiatives, such as conservation, through the lens of an orientalist epistemic injustice. This is a form of epistemic injustice that occurs when the orientalizing of space and access to sovereign systems of knowledge causes the assigning of an unjust deflated or elevated level of credibility to a knower. Under this framework of orientalist epistemic injustice, the author criticizes the credibility excess assigned to Western subjects that perform conservation efforts in third-world countries and the related credibility deficit assigned to indigenous and local knowledge and conservation practices.
115. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 4
Arthur R. Obst Flying from History, Too Close to the Sun: The Anxious, Jubilant Futurism of Contemporary “Age of Man” Environmentalism
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There is a remarkable trend in contemporary environmentalism that emphasizes ‘accepting responsibility’ for the natural world in contrast to outdated preservationist thinking that shirks such responsibility. This approach is often explained and justified by reference to the anthropocene: this fundamentally new epoch—defined by human domination—requires active human intervention to avert planetary catastrophe. However, in this paper, I suggest this rhetoric encourages a flight from history. This often jubilant, sometimes anxious, yearning for unprecedented human innovation and—ultimately—control in our new millennia mirrors the Futurist movement that took off near the beginning of the last century. Despite the significant differences in the details of how academics have defended this twenty-first-century environmental outlook, they all represent the true flight from history; they too quickly jettison the ideas of historical environmentalists and so misunderstand the environmental values at the heart of preservation that are more salient than ever.
116. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 4
A. S. Arridge Should We Blow Up a Pipeline?: Ecotage as Other-Defense
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Ecotage, or the destruction of property for the sake of promoting environmental ends, is beginning to (re)establish itself both as a topic of public discussion and as a radical activist tactic. In response to these developments, a small but growing academic literature questions whether, and if so under what conditions, ecotage can be morally justified. This paper contributes to the literature by arguing that instances of ecotage are pro tanto justified insofar as they are instances of effective and proportionate self- and/or other-defense. Having elucidated and defended its central claim, this paper concludes by briefly considering some other morally relevant features of ecotage that might tell for or against its overall justification in particular cases.
117. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 4
Linde De Vroey Back to the Future: Retrospectivity, Recovery, and Nostalgia in Rewilding
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In this article, rewilding’s orientation towards the past is discussed. A response is given to the criticisms that condemn rewilding for its retrospectivity, either as nostalgically clinging to the past or escaping history. Instead, it is shown how rewilding can embrace nostalgia as part of a critical, (counter-)cultural vision aimed at the transformation of modern culture. Its main goal can be seen as threefold: first, it is aimed at providing a more nuanced assessment of rewilding’s contested stance towards the past (and thereby, the future) through the lens of nostalgia. Second, it is demonstrated how, seen through this lens, cultural and ecological aspects of rewilding appear inextricably intertwined. Third, the concepts of ‘cultural rewilding’ and ‘recovery’ are introduced as valuable notions within rewilding. In sum, an appeal is provided for rewilders to embrace the past by dedicating attention towards cultural heritage, history, memory, and tradition.
118. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 4
Bernice Bovenkerk, Keje Boersma Of Mammoths and Megalomaniacs
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In this article, two ways of thinking about the potential disruptiveness of de-extinction and gene drives for conservation are presented. The first way of thinking zooms in on particular technologies and assesses the disruptiveness of their potential implications. This approach is exemplified by a framework proposed by Hopster (2021) that is used to conduct our assessment. The second way of thinking turns the logic of the first around. Here, the question is how gene drives and de-extinction fit into a wider and partly pre-existing context of disruption of human-nature relations. By only zooming in on a particular technology and its potential implications, the context out of which the technology is born is unavoidably disregarded. Gene drives and de-extinction are catalysts of a wider disruption already underway. And it is precisely because this disruption is already underway that the terrain is opened for the development and application of these technologies. In other words, the disruptiveness of these technologies strengthens the disruptiveness that was already underway and vice versa. It is argued that the two ways of thinking about emerging technologies in conservation need to go together, meaning in technology assessment both perspectives need to be included.