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221. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Daniel L. Dustin, Leo H McAvoy Hardining National Parks
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The “tragedy of the commons” argument developed by Garrett Hardin is applied to problems associated with the increasing use of the national parks in the United States. The relevance of his argument to such problems is illustrated by a discussion of the proposals included in the recent Draft General Management Plan for Yosemite National Park. Implications for the future management of Yosemite andother public recreation resources conclude the article.
222. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Donald C. Lee On the Marxian View of the Relationship between Man and Nature
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Marx holds that mankind has developed from nature and in mutual interaction with nature: nature is not an “other” but is man’s body. Capitalism is a necessary stage in mankind’s historical development of the mastery of nature, but it regards nature as an “other” to be exploited. Thus, a further historical development is necessary: the overcoming of the dichotomy between man as subject and nature as object.Capitalism bases its concept of wealth on unnecessary production rather than on socially useful production and on the maximization of true leisure and free and creative activity for all. It creates excess pollution and depletes nonrenewable resources as a result of this wasteful, exploitative, unnecessary production. A Marxian solution to environmental problems involves the replacement of capitalism with a rational humane, environmentally unalienated social order. Unfortunately, the actual practice of Marxism has not generally been in accord with its own theory. Such rational, humane social orders have not yet been instituted, but they must be soon. We must take one aspect of Marx’s ideas to its logical conclusion: Marxist practice has been, at best, homocentric, but now it must overcome that limitation and truly see nature as our “body.” Marxism must become ecologically aware; mankind must become the steward of its “body”: the ecosystem upon which it depends and which now depends upon it for its health (homeostasis).
223. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
W. Murray Hunt Are Mere Things Morally Considerable?
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Kenneth Goodpaster has criticized ethicists like Feinberg and Frankena for too narrowly circumscribing the range of moral considerability, urging instead that “nothing short of the condition of being alive” is a satisfactory criterion. Goodpaster overlooks at least one crucial objection: that his own “condition of being alive” may aIso be too narrow a criterion of moral considerability, since “being in existence” is at least as plausible and nonarbitrary a criterion as is Goodpaster’s. I show that each of the arguments that Goodpaster musters in support of his criterion can be used equally weIl to bolster “being in existence” as a test of moral considerability. Moreover, I argue that “being in existence” appears to be a stronger criterion overall, since it is broader. Until or unless a fuller justification is forthcoming of “being alive” as a satisfactory criterion of moral considerability-a justification which must demonstrate that “mere things,” included under the condition of “being in existence,” do not deserve moral consideration--Goodpaster’sthesis is confronted with a serious problem.
224. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Jay E. Kantor The “Interests” of Natural Objects
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Christopher D. Stone has claimed that natural objects can and should have rights. I accept Stone’s premise that the possession of rights is tied to the possession of interests; however, I argue that the concept of a natural object needs a more careful analysis than is given by Stone. Not everything that Stone calls a natural object is an object “naturally.” Some must be taken as artificial rather than as natural. Thistype of object cannot be said to have intrinsic interests and hence cannot be given rights that can protect “its own sake”-which is the sort of right that Stone focuses on. Further, there are other sorts of natural objects which, although they are objects “naturally,” cannot meaningfully be said to have intrinsic interests, and thus cannot have the sorts of rights that Stone is concerned with. Finally, there are other sorts of natural objects which are objects naturally and which have intrinsic interests, but which are not proper candidates for the possession of rights. The prerequisites for being “owed” rights are the possession of intrinsic interests and the capability to suffer when those interests are interfered with or denied or threatened.
225. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Tom Regan Animal Rights, Human Wrongs
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In this essay, I explore the moral foundations of the treatment of animals. Alternative views are critically examined, including (a) the Kantian account, which holds that our duties regarding animals are actually indirect duties to humanity; (b) the cruelty account, which holds that the idea of cruelty explains why it is wrong to treat animals in certain ways; and (c) the utilitarian account, which holds that the value of consequences for all sentient creatures explains our duties to animals. These views are shown to be inadequate, the Kantian account because some of our duties regarding animals are direct duties to animals; the cruelty account because it confuses matters of motive or intent with the question of the rightness or wrongness of the agent’s actions; and the utilitarian account because it could be used to justifyidentifiable speciesistic practices. I defend a fourth view. Only if we postulate basic moral rights in the case of humans, can we satisfactorily account for why it is wrong to treat humans in certain ways, and it is only by postulating that these humans have inherent value that we can attribute to them basic moral rights. Consistency requires that we attribute this same kind of value to many animals. Their havinginherent value provides a similar basis for attributing certain basic moral rights to them, including the right not to be harmed. Possession of this right places the onus of justification on anyone who would harm these animals. I set forth conditions for such a justification which those who would abuse animals have failed to meet.
226. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Eugene C. Hargrove Anglo-American Land Use Attitudes
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Environmentalists in the United States are often confronted by rural landowners who feel that they have the right to do whatever they want with their land regardless of the consequences for other human beings or of the damage to the environment. This attitude is traced from its origins in ancient German and Saxon land use practices into the political writings of Thomas Jefferson where it was fused togetherwith John Locke’s theory of property. This view of land and property rights was most influential in the late nineteenth century after the passage of the Homestead Act in 1862 when it was used in the arguments opposing national parks and nature preservation. Today it remains a formidable obstacle to planning and zoning in rural areas, despite unstated underlying assumptions which are either outdated or false.
227. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Meredith Williams Rights, Interests, and Moral Equality
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I discuss Peter Singer’s claim that the interests of animals merit equal consideration with those of human beings. I show that there are morally relevant differences between humans and animals that Singer’s rather narrow utilitarian conception of morality fails to capture. Further, I argue that Singer’s formal conception of moral equality is so thin as to be virtually vacuous and that his attempts to give it moresubstance point to just the kind of differences between humans and animals that undermine his equalitarian thesis.
228. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 3
James E. Scarff Ethical Issues in Whale and Small Cetacean Management
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Three main ethical issues involved in the management of whales and small cetaceans are examined: ethical values concerning extinction and their implications for consumptive management regimes, the humaneness of current and feasible future harvesting techniques, and the ethical propriety of killing cetaceans for various uses. I argue that objections to human-caused extinction are primarily ethical, and that the ethical discussion must be expanded to include greater consideration of acceptable risks and problems associated with extinction due to human-caused genetic selection. Whaling methods are objectively described including death times for whales. I show that the debate on humaneness is not about the facts of the hunt, but about the appropriate standard for judging whether or not a technique ishumane. Economic and ecological arguments which attempt to preempt the ethical questions are discussed and dismissed as specious. Arguments which attempt to distinguish ethically human relations with cetaceans from relations with other wildlife species are reviewed critically.
229. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 3
Alan R. Drengson Shifting Paradigms: From the Technocratic to the Person-Planetary
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In this paper I examine the interconnections between two paradigms of technology, nature, and social life, and their associated environmental impacts. The dominant technocratic philosophy which now guides policy and technological power is mechanistic. It conceptualizes nature as a resource to be controlled fully for human ends and it threatens drastically to alter the integrity of the planet’s ecosystems. Incontrast, the organic, person-planetary paradigm conceptualizes intrinsic value in all beings. Deep ecology gives priority to community and ecosystem integrity and seeks to guide the design and applications of technology according to principles which follow from ecological understanding. I describe this shift in paradigms and how it affects our perceptions, values, and actions.
230. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 3
J. Donald Hughes The Environmental Ethics of the Pythagoreans
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Two conflicting tendencies may be discerned in Pythagorean ethics as applied to the environment: on the one hand, a sense of reverence for nature and kinship with all life that opposed killing and other forms of interference in the natural world, and on the other hand, a doctrine of the separability of soul and body which denigrates the body and the external world of which it is apart. The prescriptive content of Pythagorean ethics includes prohibitions against taking life, even in sacrifices to the gods, and against eating anything that has been killed. Pollution of certain kinds is forbidden. These strictures were based on an organic, cyclical view of the world, emphasizing its harmony and balance. The Pythagoreans investigated some questions that would today be called ecological. Perhaps most importantly, they evinced a genuine respect for living things, deriving in part from the belief that animals and plants contain the reborn souls of human beings. These doctrines may have been derived from the attitudes and practices of ancestral hunters and gatherers in southeast Europe, with traditional Greek religion serving as the means of transmission from tribaI cultures to c1assical philosophy. The followers of Pythagoras split into two schools: a “scientific” school that neglected biology and therefore ecology, and a “religious” school that emphasized purity of soul and rejected any concern with physical nature. The more “environmentalist”teachings were gradually abandoned as the Pythagoreans accommodated themselves to the general attitudes of Greco-Roman culture. For instance, the objections to animal sacrifice, and to most plants as food, were dropped. The divorce of body and soul in later Pythagorean thought, wherever its influence was strong, brought with it indifference not only to the body, but to all the rest of the natural environment.
231. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 3
Kenneth E. Goodpaster On Stopping at Everything: A Reply to W. M. Hunt
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Contrary to W. Murray Hunt’s suggestion, living things deserve moral consideration and inanimate objects do not precisely because living things can intelligibly be said to have interests (and inanimate objects cannot intelligibly said to have interests). Interests are crucial because the concept of morality is noncontingently related to beneficence or nonmaleficence, notions which misfire completely in theabsence of entities capable of being benefited or harmed.
232. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 3
Walter H. O'Briant Leibniz’s Contribution to Environmental Philosophy
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In this essay I survey the philosophy of the seventeenth-century German thinker Gottfried Leibniz as a preliminary to eliciting some of the implications of his views for environmental philosophy. Reference is also made to the views of the ancient atomists, Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, and Spinoza.
233. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 4
Tom Regan On the Connection Between Environmental Science and Environmental Ethics
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I critically assess Don Marietta’s thesis that obligations are not dictates of reason but rather are imbedded in a person’s “world view.” The notion of “a view of the world” is both vague and leads to consequences common to all forms of subjectivism in ethics, since world views can and sometimes do vary from person to person. Marietta cannot avoid these consequences by arguing that some views of the world are “more reasonable” than others, since counting rationality as an appropriate basis for choosing between world views is itself to favor a particular view of the world. Neither then can Marietta consistently argue for the preferability of a world view which grounds our obligations regarding the ecosystem in environnlental science. Given his general position, this can only tell us what he prefers, not whatis preferable.
234. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 4
J. Baird Callicott Animal Liberation: A Triangular Affair
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The ethical foundations of the “animal liberation” movement are compared with those of Aldo Leopold’s “land ethic,” which is taken as the paradigm for environmental ethics in general. Notwithstanding certain superficial similarities, more profound practical and theoretical differences are exposed. While only sentient animals are moraIly considerable according to the humane ethic, the land ethic includes within its purview plants as weIl as animals and even soils and waters. Nor does the land ethic prohibit the hunting, killing, and eating ofcertain animal species, in sharp contrast to the humane ethic. The humane ethic rests upon Benthamic foundations: pain is taken to be the ultimate evil and it is reductive or atomistic in its moral focus. The land ethic, on the other hand, is holistic in the sense that theintegrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community is its summum bonum. A classical antecedent of some of the formal characteristics of the land ethic is found in Plato’s moral philosophy. Special consideration is given to the differing moral status of domestic and wild animals in the humane and land ethics and to the question of moral vegetarianism.
235. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 4
L. Duane Willard On Preserving Nature’s Aesthetic Features
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I consider and reject four possible arguments directed against the preservation of natural aesthetic conditions. (1) Beauty is not out there in nature, but is “in the eye ofthe beholder.” I argue that since ingredients ofnature cause aesthetic experiences, we cannot justifiably disregard and exploit nature. Preservation of aesthetic conditions is compatible with both objective and nonobjective theories of aesthetic value. (2) Frequent aesthetic disagreements bring about irresolvable disputes concerning which segments of nature to preserve. I claim that these disputes are not irresolvable. Not all disputes about nature’s aesthetic values are purely aesthetic disputes: ecological balance, community identity, historic continuity, and economics are relevant; aesthetic experts can help; and such disputes can be put to a vote. (3) Natural beauty is not important compared to nonaesthetic values of nature. I show that this is questionable. Current awareness of environmental problems includes a rapidly growing concern for natural aesthetics. Moreover, even if majority preference is for nonaesthetic uses of nature, this does not settle the question of whether we ought to preserve nature’s attractive features. (4) From neither a utilitarian nor a deontological viewpoint do we have an obligation to preserve natural aesthetic conditions for future generations. I argue that even if we do not have a strict obligation, it does not follow that it makes no moral difference whether we preserve. Not yet existing people may have no rights against us, but this does not mean that we do no wrong in polluting and destroying aesthetic conditions of the natural world in which future people will live.
236. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 4
Charles Y. Deknatel Questions about Environmental Ethics? Toward a Research Agenda with a Focus on Public Policy
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Despite common elements and antecedents of environmental ethics, their implied application to related policy or action is not always clear. This paper attempts to develop a set of questions and a preliminary framework for considering some of the issues raised by environmental ethics as they might appear in public policy.
237. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 4
Don E. Marietta, Jr. World Views and Moral Decisions: A Reply to Tom Regan
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Tom Regan (this issue) criticizes my thesis that obligation toward the environment is grounded in a world view and thereby has a moral overridingness which mere interests and desires do not have. He holds that my approach is too subjectivistic. I counter, first, by explaining that phenomenology, which I use in my analysis of moral obligation, is not subjectivistic in the way emotivism or prescriptivism inethics is subjectivistic. Second, I argue that world views are products of learning and experience of one shared world, that most world views share large areas of agreement, and that they can be argued for and criticized.
238. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 2 > Issue: 4
Gene Spitler Sensible Environmental Principles for the Future
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The attitudes of the American public toward the environmental movement may be undergoing change as the economic crunch continues and energy shortages reoccur. The principles underlying the environmental movement need to be defined and examined carefully to determine what makes sense for our changing conditions. In this paper an attempt is made to express the two primary ethical principles which have evolved from environmental thinking and, in turn, have influenced the directions taken by the movement. It is argued that these principles must not be accepted uncritically, but rather must be analyzed and subsequently modified to become compatible with more traditional ethical thinking. Such a synthesis is attempted in the paper. The modified principles can provide valuable guidance as we make difficult decisions which can influence the future path of life on Earth.
239. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 20 > Issue: 1
Annie L. Booth Learning from Others: Ecophilosophy and Traditional Native American Women’s Lives
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I examine the roles of traditional Native American women with regard to their impact on maintaining appropriate spiritual, cultural, and physical relationships with the natural world and discuss lessons that ecophilosphers might find useful in reexamining their own spiritual, cultural, and physical relationships.
240. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 20 > Issue: 1
Cary Coglianese Implications of Liberal Neutrality for Environmental Policy
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The principle of liberal neutrality requires governments to avoid acting to promote particular conceptions of the good life. Yet by determining who uses natural resources and how, environmental policy makers can affect the availability of resources needed by individuals to carry on meaningful lives and in doing so can effectively privilege some versions of the good life at the expense of others. A commitment to liberal neutrality by implication promotes environmental policy that accommodates competing activities in order to provide a wide range of resources that can support diversity in individual lives. It also encourages caution with regard to legislation based on deep ecology, the intrinsic value of species, and the fear of impending environmental catastrophe.