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61. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 4
Catherine Larrère “A Life Worthy of Being Called Human”: The Actuality of Hans Jonas’ Maxim
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“Act so that the effects of your action are compatible with the permanence of genuine human life on Earth.” How can we understand Jonas’ “maxim”? Is it too anthropocentric to be of any interest for an environmental ethic? Is is too limited to survival to have a moral signification in a truly human ethic? One can argue first that it is not so much anti-Kantian than that it challenges the current prevailing “presentism” and obliges us to take into consideration not only future generations, but also the context in which one anticipates these future generations to be living. Therefore, we can distinguish two different interpretations of Jonas’ maxim: in a first stage, that of sustainable development, it was understood as taking into consideration not only the needs but also the rights of future generations; in a second stage, that of an Anthropocene and ecological transition, it means that making sense of humanity implies connecting human beings to the Earth and other living beings far from opposing them.
62. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 4
Eric Pommier The Problem of Environmental Democracy: Responsibility and Deliberation
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The work of Hans Jonas’ has been largely overlooked by environmental philosophers. His Principle of Responsibility can help guide effective development of political institutions for environmental purposes. It is possible to use this principle to develop a deliberative and environmental conception of democracy. Some implications of the social contract framework of deliberative democracy show that Jonas’ conceptualization of responsibility leads to an environmental and deliberative conception of democracy by accommodating different citizens’ senses of the good in terms of an environmentally conceived global governance.
63. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 4
Daniel Loewe Environmental Intergenerational Justice and the Nonidentity Problem: A Kantian Approach
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A moral Kantian approach can be developed to deal with the nonidentity problem with regard to environmental intergenerationl justice—at least in cases of depletion or risky policy. Being a duty-oriented moral theory, this approach allows both that people coming into existence in a nonidentity situation can be glad to exist while simultaneously taking into account depletion or risky policy, to which their existence is causally related, as possibly being morally wrong because of a violation of moral duties.
64. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 4
Hernán Neira Climax: Biology and Ethics in Environmental Restoration
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Justifications for the environmental restoration of the Pumalín National Park, originally known as Pumalín Nature Sanctuary, in Chile can be analyzed from a philosophical and ethical point of view. The environmental stage to which the park should be restored is defined as a moral choice, rather than an ecological one, that is based on “climax” as an a priori value that supports and guides the main restoration actions carried out in the park. This climax is a pre-settling or pre-colonization condition. Defined philosophically, climax is both an ethical and political value. For these actions, the ecosystem’s health can be treated the same as that of a human’s health: each society defines the criteria and the acme of health, as well as the valid efforts to restore it.
65. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 4
Andrea Nye Aimé Bonpland: A Land Ethic in the La Plata
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Recent books promote Alexander Humboldt as an environmental hero, dismissing Humboldt’s partner in exploration, the botanist Aimé Bonpland, in a few inaccurate phrases: left Europe, went native somewhere in South America, did some farming. Bonpland’s writings and his forty years of regional development, botanical research, ethno-pharmacology, and environmental conservation in Argentina and Brazil present a better model for an environmental ethics than Humboldt’s climb to fame in Europe.
66. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 43 > Issue: 2
Jorge Torres Plato’s Anthropocentrism Reconsidered
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Plato’s ideas on the value of nature and humankind are reconsidered. The traditional suggestion that his thought is ethically anthropocentric is rejected. Instead “Ethical Ratiocentrism” (ER) is the environmental worldview found in the dialogues. According to ER, human life is not intrinsically valuable, but only rational life is. ER is consistent with Plato’s holistic axiological outlook but incompatible with ethical anthropocentrism.
67. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 43 > Issue: 2
Benjamin Hole Radical Virtue and Climate Action
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Radical virtue serves two distinct purposes: consolation in unfavorable circumstances, and prescription to achieve better ones. This paper maps out the theoretical nuances important for practical guidance. For a Stoic, radical virtue is a way to live well through environmental tragedy. For a consequentialist, it is an instrument to motivate us to combat climate change. For an Aristotelian, it is both. I argue that an Aristotelian approach fares the best, balancing the aim of external success with the aim of living well through practical wisdom. This involves criticizing assumptions about living well that underlie behaviors that contribute to climate change. Some might object virtue theory suffers from application problems, and an Aristotelian approach suffers even more because it does not tell the virtuous person how to negotiate her aims. In response, Aristotelian revision starts with moral perception that adds valuable content by navigating through the messiness.
68. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 43 > Issue: 2
Rafael Rodrigues Pereira Virtue Ethics and the Trilemma Facing Sentiocentrism: Questioning Impartiality in Environmental Ethics
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This article aims to question the value of impartiality in environmental ethics by highlighting a problem internal to the bioethics approach known as sentiocentrism. The principle that all beings with the same degree of consciousness should receive the same moral treatment would lead to a trilemma, i.e., the need to choose among three morally unacceptable choices. I argue those problems are related to the premise, shared by Utilitarianism and rights-centered theories, that impartiality is the constitutive feature of the moral point of view. In the last part of my article, I discuss how this problem points to some advantages of a virtue ethics approach to environmental ethics.
69. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 43 > Issue: 2
Katharine Wolfe Nourishing Bonds: The Ethics and Ecology of Nursing
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The care ethics tradition has long argued for the merits of understanding the self as relational. Inspired by this tradition, but also by ecofeminist philosophies that insist on the need to consider our wider ecological and interspecies connections, this paper focuses on the relational elements of breast/chestfeeding (most frequently referred to as ‘nursing’ for gender-neutrality) and their ethical implications. I show nursing to be an act that not only 1) connects us to one another through bonds of nourishment and care but also 2) reconnects us to our animal selves and enlivens connections to non-human animals. Moreover, I argue that nursing 3) exposes our entwinement in a web of ecological relationships through which the toxic harm we have wrought on our environment returns to us. To draw out the ethical implications of these connections, I introduce the concept of ‘relational vulnerabilities.’ Relational vulnerabilities are forged through our connections to others, be they bonds of dependence and need, historical harm and ongoing violence, love and joy, or all at once. I contend that all relational vulnerabilities call for ethical attention, yet, when it comes to nursing, these vulnerabilities are often neglected or, worse, made the targets of heinous abuse.
70. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 43 > Issue: 4
Espen D. Stabell Why Environmental Philosophers Should Be "Buck-Passers" about Value
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The value of nature has been extensively debated in environmental ethics. There has been less discussion, however, about how one should understand the relation between this value and normativity, or reasons: if something in nature is seen as valuable, how should we understand the relation between this fact and claims about reasons to, for example, protect it or promote its existence? The “commonsense” view is that value gives rise to reasons. The buck-passing account of value (BPA), on the other hand, implies that for an entity or state of affairs in nature to be valuable just is for it to have properties (other than that of being valuable) that provide reasons to promote or have a pro-attitude towards it. BPA has been extensively debated, but has received little attention in environmental philosophy. In this paper, it is argued that the view suggests a “reasons first” approach to environmental ethics, and that it should be preferred to competing accounts of value in the context of environmental ethics.
71. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 43 > Issue: 4
Igor Eterović Grounding Responsibility to Future Generations from a Kantian Standpoint
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The problem of responsibility to future generations is inherently related to responsibility for the environment. Attempting to provide a new grounding for the figuration of such responsibility, Hans Jonas used Immanuel Kant’s ethics as a paradigm of traditional ethics to provide a critique of their limitations in addressing these issues, and he found three crucial problems in Kant’s ethics (formalism, presentism, and individualism). Kant’s philosophy provides enough material for an answer to Jonas by building an account which 1) gives a teleological grounding of responsibility for the environment and consequently responsibility to future generations; 2) enables the establishment of collective responsibility towards the idea of moral progress, which includes future generations; and 3) answers Jonas’s challenge by extending moral concerns to other living and non-living beings and especially to future generations.
72. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 43 > Issue: 4
Jean-Paul Vessel Desert-Adjusted Utilitarianism, People, and Animals
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Recent decades have witnessed a surge in philosophical attention to the moral standing of non-human animals. Kantians, Neo-Kantians, utilitarians, and radical animal rights theorists have staked their claims in the literature. Here Fred Feldman’s desert-adjusted utilitarianism is introduced into the fray. After canvassing the prominent competitors in the dialectic, a conception of an overall moral ranking (relative to a moral choice scenario) consonant with desert-adjusted utilitarianism is developed. Then the conception’s implications regarding the particular locations of individual people and animals in such rankings across various scenarios is explored. Ultimately, it is argued that when it comes to evaluating whether or not some benefit (or burden) morally ought to be bestowed upon some specific person or animal, this new conception of an overall moral ranking is sensitive to a wider range of morally relevant phenomena than its more prominent competitors.
73. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 43 > Issue: 4
Michel Bourban Strong Sustainability Ethics
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This article explains how strong sustainability ethics has emerged and developed as a new field over the last two decades as a critical response to influential conceptions of weak sustainability. It investigates three competing, normative approaches to strong sustainability: the communitarian approach, the Rawlsian approach, and the capabilities approach. Although these approaches converge around the idea that there are critical, non-substitutable natural resources and services, they diverge on how to reconcile human development and environmental protection. The aim of the paper is to provide a critical overview of these three perspectives, but also and mostly to show that when we put them into dialogue with each other, we can clarify the demands of sustainability. The paper concludes that the capabilities approach is the most suitable way to think about sustainability, but only if it goes beyond its dominantly anthropocentric view.
74. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 44 > Issue: 1
Blake Francis Climate Change Injustice
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Many climate change ethicists argue wealthy nations have duties of justice to combat climate change. However, Posner and Weisbach disagree because there is a poor fit between the principles of justice and the problem of climate change. I argue in this paper that Posner and Weisbach’s argument relies on what Judith Shklar calls “the normal model of justice,” the view that injustice results when principles are violated. Applying Shklar’s critique of normal justice, I argue that Posner and Weisbach’s argument limits injustice to include complaints that match rules and principles, shielding the unjust from responsibility and assuming falsely that judgments about injustice can be made from a singular perspective. Drawing on Shklar, this paper develops an account of climate change as a complement to mainstream climate ethicists. On this account, injustice results from indifference and the voices of those impacted by climate change and climate change policy have priority.
75. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 44 > Issue: 1
Daniel Weltman Covert Animal Rescue: Civil Disobedience or Subrevolution?
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We should conceive of illegal covert animal rescue as acts of “subrevolution” rather than as civil disobedience. Subrevolutions are revolutions that aim to overthrow some part of the government rather than the entire government. This framework better captures the relevant values than the opposing suggestion that we treat illegal covert animal rescue as civil disobedience. If animals have rights like the right not to be unjustly imprisoned and mistreated, then it does not make sense that an instance of animal rescue will be justifiable only if it meets criteria for justified civil disobedience, e.g., the requirement that the civil disobedient not rescue more animals than would be necessary to communicate their message. Thus, the framework of subrevolution is a more apt way to analyze animal rescue.
76. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 44 > Issue: 1
Yasha Rohwer Infringing upon Environmental Autonomy with the Aim of Enabling It
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Part of what makes the environment valuable is its autonomy. There are some who think that any human influence on an environment is necessarily autonomy-compromising because it is a form of human control. In this article, I will assume human influence on the environment necessarily undermines autonomy. However, I will argue, even given this assumption, it is still possible for the intervention to enable autonomy in the long run. My focus is on genetic intervention into organisms, because some might think human influence in these cases cannot dissipate. I argue this is mistaken and, borrowing a concept from botany, I argue genes, even genes inserted into a genome by humans, can “naturalize.” Furthermore, they can function in ways that are autonomy-enabling to the individual and to the system to which the organism belongs.
77. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 44 > Issue: 1
Rachel Fredericks CLIMATE LEGACY: A Newish Concept for the Climate Crisis
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Individual and collective agents, especially affluent ones, are not doing nearly enough to prevent and prepare for the worst consequences of the unfolding climate crisis. This is, I suggest, partly because our existing conceptual repertoires are inadequate to the task of motivating climate-stabilizing activities. I argue that the concept CLIMATE LEGACY meets five desiderata for concepts that, through usage, have significant potential to motivate climate action. Contrasting CLIMATE LEGACY with CARBON FOOTPRINT, CLIMATE JUSTICE, and CARBON NEUTRALITY, I clarify some advantages of thinking in terms of the former. I conclude by discussing some climate legacy-enhancing practical proposals that merit consideration.
78. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 44 > Issue: 1
Marion Hourdequin, Allen Thompson Editors' Introduction to the 2020 ISEE Special Issue
79. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2
Anna Deplazes-Zemp Are People Part of Nature? Yes and No: A Perspectival Account of the Concept of ‘Nature’
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The question of whether or not people are part of nature is relevant to discuss humans’ role on earth and their environmental responsibilities. This article introduces the perspectival account of the concept of ‘nature,’ which starts from the observation that we talk about the environment from a particular, human perspective. In this account, the term ‘nature’ is used to refer to those parts of and events in the environment we perceive as being shaped by typically human activities. Humans themselves are part of nature insofar as they participate in and are products of natural processes. Therefore, in this account, nature is not only the passive environment, but also something active and generative that does not operate human creativity, but rather and it in shaping our environment. According to the perspectival account, the ‘nature’ concept expresses a particular relationship between the human agent and the non-human environment, which can be the starting point for normative theory.
80. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2
Matthew Hall Empathy for Plants
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Empathy, and its role in human-human and human-animal relationships, has been discussed at length in recent years. Empathy for plants has received little to no attention. In this essay I briefly examine existing theory about human-plant empathy, primarily Marder’s account of a projective empathy. I use contemporary scholarship by Dan Zahavi, as well as phenomenological accounts of empathy, to query this understanding of empathy and to lay the conceptual groundwork for developing an account of empathy for plants in line with Max Scheler’s embodied empathy. In doing so, I sketch an account of the basis for human-plant empathy, including the gestures and behaviors that an empathy for plants may pay particular heed to. The essay concludes by outlining how such an empathy for plants may be developed.