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81. 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.
82. 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.
83. 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.
84. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 44 > Issue: 1
Marion Hourdequin, Allen Thompson Editors' Introduction to the 2020 ISEE Special Issue
85. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 44 > Issue: 3
Allen Thompson Note from the Editor
86. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 44 > Issue: 3
Marion Hourdequin, Allen Thompson Guest Editors' Introduction to the 2021 ISEE Special Issue
87. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 44 > Issue: 3
Keje Boersma The Anthropocene as the End of Nature?: Why Recognizing Interventionism Is Key in Coming to Terms with the Anthropocene
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In this article, I address and argue against the tendency to understand the anthropocene as inaugurating the end of nature. I conduct two key moves. First, by way of an engagement with the concept of anthropocene technology I explain how understanding the anthropocene as the end of nature prevents us from recognizing what the anthropocene is all about: interventionism. Secondly, I illustrate how a nondualist understanding of the human-nature relation allows us to recognize interventionism as the hallmark of the anthropocene without falling back into the hierarchical human-nature conceptions that underlie interventionism. A nondualist framework that conserves the human-nature distinction helps us in our ability to relate critically to contemporary science and technology in the anthropocene. I illustrate the conceptual narrative of the article through the specific case of gene drive technology development.
88. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 44 > Issue: 3
Anna Peterson Religion and the Possibility of a Materialist Environmental Ethic
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In Thinking Like a Mall, Steven Vogel proposes an environmental philosophy “after nature,” meaning one that rejects the division of the world into wild and humanized spaces. This division is false because environments are always constructed by people, who are enmeshed in landscapes and ecological processes. The opposition between wild and humanized parallels the religious division between sacred and profane, according to Vogel. He believes this dualism is an inextricable part of religious worldviews and thus that environmental philosophy must reject religion. This understanding of religion echoes the work of many scholars of religion, who define religion in terms of an opposition between sacred and profane. However, this approach fails to take into account the many traditions that do not divide the world this way. In many cultures, the sacred is connected to the profane much as the natural and the human are intertwined in Vogel’s materialist philosophy. This entanglement is evident in ecological restoration, in which human actions help construct processes that ultimately transcend human intentions and control. I argue that this is a kind of transcendence, which points to a way in which religious language can help us think about a post-natural environmental philosophy.
89. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 44 > Issue: 3
Lars Samuelsson The Cost of Denying Intrinsic Value in Nature
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Many people who claim to genuinely care about nature still seem reluctant to ascribe intrinsic value to it. Environmentalists, nature friendly people in general, and even environmental activists, often hesitate at the idea that nature possesses value in its own right—value that is not reducible to its importance to human or other sentient beings. One crucial explanation of this reluctance is probably the thought that such value—at least when attached to nature—would be mysterious in one way or another, or at least very difficult to account for. In addition, Bryan Norton’s influential convergence hypothesis states that, from a practical point of view, it makes no or little difference whether we ascribe intrinsic value to nature, given the depth and variety of instrumental value it possesses. In this paper, I argue that people who genuinely care about nature cannot avoid ascribing intrinsic value (in a certain sense) to it, if they want to be able to consistently defend the kind of claims about protecting nature they arguably want to make, i.e., claims to the effect that we ought to protect for instance nature areas and species. The cost of denying intrinsic value in nature is the cost of giving up a crucial resource to philosophically defend such claims.
90. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 44 > Issue: 3
Michael Aaron Lindquist Astroethics and the Non-Fungibility Thesis
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This paper approaches the question of terraforming—the changing of extraterrestrial environments to be capable of harboring earth-based life—by arguing for a novel conception of moral status that accounts for extraterrestrial bodies like Mars. The paper begins by addressing pro-terraforming arguments offered by James S. J. Schwartz before offering the novel account of moral status. The account offered builds on and modifies Keekok Lee’s No External Teleology Thesis (NETT), while defending a proposed Non-Fungibility Thesis (NFT). The NETT is modified and defended with specific reference to Lee’s work on artifactuality and transgenic organisms. The NFT builds on work around objectification and irreplaceability, offering an account that recognizes the importance of bearers of value above and beyond the mere value they purportedly possess. Finally, the plausibility of the account is established by an overview of its applicability to other possible candidates for moral status.
91. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 1
Andrew Frederick Smith An Ecological Conception of Personhood
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Centering Indigenous philosophical considerations, ecologies are best understood as kinship arrangements among humans, other-than-human beings, and spiritual and abiotic entities who together through the land share a sphere of responsibility based on both care and what Daniel Wildcat calls “multigenerational spatial knowledge.” Ecologically speaking, all kin can become persons by participating in processes of socialization whereby one engages in practices and performances that support responsible relations both within and across ecologies. Spheres of responsibility are not operable strictly within human relationships, nor do what count as responsibilities necessarily center on the human. No being is born a person or automatically earns this status. Personhood must be gained and can be lost. Indeed, under current ecological conditions across the planet, we arguably inhabit a world full of marginal cases.
92. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 1
Gonzalo Salazar, Valentina Acuña, Luca Valera From the Utopia of Sustainable Development to Sustainable Topoi
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The hegemonic discourse of sustainable development adopted as an international alternative solution to the socio-ecological crisis has implied a progression of the modern utopian project and most importantly, an intrinsic contradiction and omission that positions sustainable development as something that is not in any place. To understand, discuss, and transcend this oxymoron, we first review the modern utopian project and analyze its paradigmatic and ontological assumptions about knowledge, time, and space. Second, we show that sustainable development just re-adapted the founding premises of the modern utopias. Third, to transcend the modern utopian facet of sustainable development, we suggest an understanding of sustainability that stems from a topographical way of thinking. We suggest this approach allows us to seek alternatives to the modern epistemology and ontology that have shaped the current dominant vision of sustainable development. Finally, we propose to move from the modern utopia of sustainable development to the praxis of topographical sustainabilities to trigger a more comprehensive and relational praxis of sustainability.
93. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 1
Hewei Sophia Duan Scientific Knowledge and Art in the Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature
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Scientific cognitivism, a main position in Western environmental aesthetics, claims scientific knowledge plays a major role in the aesthetic appreciation of nature. However, the claim is controversial. This study reexamines the history of United States environmental attitudes around the nineteenth century and claims art has played the main role in nature appreciation, even with the emphasis on scientific knowledge. This paper proposes a tri-stage, Scientific Knowledge-Aesthetic Value Transformation Model and argues nature appreciation is indirectly related to knowledge. Scientific knowledge plays a part in the first, pre-appreciation stage and helps build the impression of nature that bridges scientific cognition with aesthetic appreciation in the second, impression-rebuilt stage. Finally, the engagement model is required in the third, appreciation stage. This paper also presents a two-dimensional evaluation criterion to assess various approaches of nature appreciation and artworks.
94. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 1
Rachel Bryant Tragic Moral Conflict in Endangered Species Recovery
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Tragic moral conflicts are situations from within which whatever one does—including abstaining from action—will be seriously wrong; even the overall right decision involves violating a moral responsibility. This article offers an account of recovery predicaments, a particular kind of tragic conflict that characterizes the current extinction crisis. Recovery predicaments occur when the human-caused extinction of a species or population cannot be prevented without breaching moral responsibilities to animals by doing violence to or otherwise severely dominating them. Recognizing the harm of acting from within recovery conflicts adds force to appeals for interrogating and dismantling the systems of thinking, valuing, and acting that bring species to the brink of extinction.
95. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 2
Rich Eva Thomistic Environmental Ethics: God’s Artistic Property
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A cursory reading of Thomas Aquinas’s work can give the impression he condones a despotic or exploitative relationship between humans and the environment. Many philosophers and theologians have sought to dispel this impression and draw out a more robust Thomistic environmental ethic. In this paper, I support this endeavor by describing how, in Thomas’s work, the environment is God’s artistic property and how this notion qualifies our use of the environment. Next, I consider two concepts related to artistic property: vandalism and showcasing. I explore these concepts as they relate to the environment and find they give us reasons not to deface or destroy creatures and to look to creation for guidance in problem-solving.
96. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 2
Bengt Brülde, U. Martin Persson, Lina Eriksson, Fredrik Hedenus Whose Fault Is It?: An Account of Complicity in Unstructured Collective Harms
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Many of the major challenges facing global society are unstructured collective harms (e.g., global warming): collective in the sense that they arise as the result of the actions of, or interactions among, multiple agents, and unstructured in the sense that there is no coordination or intention to cause harm among these agents. But how should we distribute moral responsibility for these harms? In this paper, an answer is proposed to this question. This answer builds on but develops existing proposals by drawing together literatures that speak to different aspects of the question. First, it is argued that the notion of causal contribution needs to be broadened to include the idea of causation as production. Second, it is discussed how the voluntariness and foreseeability conditions are best interpreted in this context. Third, literature on moral taint is drawn to introduce additional objective (external) criteria.
97. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 2
Diana-Abasi Ibanga Ndu-Mmili-Ndu-Azu ("Live-and-Let-Live"): Ekwealo’s Version of Environmental Ethics
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In three parts, this article sketches the version of African environmental ethics that was developed and promoted by Chigbo Ekwealo who was a renowned environmental philosopher in Africa. The first part is a sketch of the principles and doctrine of his environmental ethics. The second part traces the intellectual history of his environmental ethics, the influences on it and its influence on the global environmental ethics movement. The third part is a critique of his environmental ethics based on contemporary and global circumstances. It is demonstrated how Ekwealo’s environmental ethics attempted to consciously depart from earlier versions of African environmental ethics in terms of its rejection of the neo-materialist, polemical, and supernatural features of other views. This article contributes to a reconstruction of the environmental thought of one of the founders of the African environmental movement whose thoughts are not accessible to most contemporary environmental philosophers today.
98. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 45 > Issue: 2
Eric Katz Six Trees: Thinking along a Spectrum to Escape a Dark Wood
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Consider the existence of six identical trees of the same species across a variety of environments. The first tree is in a wild and isolated landscape. The second is in a wilderness park. The third is in a heavily forested “tree plantation” owned by International Paper. The fourth is in the Ramble in Central Park. The fifth is in a suburban yard. The sixth is inside the six-story atrium of a Manhattan skyscraper. This paper begins with the intuition that the identical trees have different values because they exist in different environments and biological-social contexts. To understand the different evaluations of the trees we must think along a spectrum that incorporates both axiology and ontology. This thought experiment is useful in exploring arguments about both the management and the preservation of the natural world. The conclusion is that we must think along a spectrum of natural being and value to understand the dualism between humanity and nature and thereby avoid the domination of the natural environment.
99. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Michaelle L. Browers Jefferson’s Land Ethic: Environmental Ideas in Notes on the State of Virginia
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I articulate what I refer to as Jefferson’s “land ethic,” drawing primarily from his Notes on the State of Virginia. In the first section, I discuss Jefferson’s conception of the intimate relationship between the natural and political constitution of America and his vindication of both. In the second section, I examine the centrality of the environment in Jefferson’s political vision for America: a landbasedrepublicanism. In the third section, I elaborate Jefferson’s view as to the proper relationship between human beings and their environment by focusing on the form of nature to which he believes human beings most intimately relate: one’s estate. Jefferson’s understanding of the land draws from John Locke’s theory of property, but whereas Locke’s concept of property is closely associated with the economic values that facilitate human destruction of the environment, Jefferson’s environmentalism focuses on the other side of the relation: the ways in which a particular nature—a climate, one’s landholding, the New World in general–can influence human nature and politics.
100. Environmental Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Ralph M. Perhac, Jr. Environmental Justice: The Issue of Disproportionality
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It is widely held that environmental risks which are distributed unequally along racial or socioeconomic lines are necessarily distributed unjustly. While disproportionality may result from the perpetration of procedural injustices—what might be termed environmental racism, the question I am concerned with is whether disproportionality, in and of itself, constitutes injustice. I examine this question from the perspective of three prominent theories of justice that largely capture the range of our intuitions about fairness and justice—utilitarianism, natural rights theory, and (Rawlsian) contractarianism. While each of these theories provides clear grounds for objecting to the imposition of risk on individuals without their consent, none provides grounds for thinking that eliminating disproportionalities along racial or socioeconomic lines, in and of itself, is called for as a matter of justice. As a result, I suggest that the concern of environmental justice should lie with identifying (and protecting) those at greatest risk, rather than identifying correlations between average risk levels and morally arbitrary characteristics possessed by individuals, such as race or socioeconomic status.