relationship between the nature of Geography as an academic discipline and the nature that . produced by nature, not the work of man or interfered with by man.' Here the .. Fitzgerald's () The Animals Readers offer a wider range of essays. cypenv.info (last accessed 02/03/ 07). Traditional Ethical Theories and Contemporary Environment Ethics . rethinking of the relationship of human beings with the natural environment over “ natural” seems ambiguous in many different ways (see Hume , App. 3; Mill .. on the status of and our relation to nature and non-human species. Human was leading to depend on man-made industry in industrialized cities Inside the city human was again in close relation to nature while his/her main.
The progress in knowledge and material well-being may not be a bad thing in itself, where the consumption and control of nature is a necessary part of human life. However, the critical theorists argue that the positivistic disenchantment of natural things and, likewise, of human beings—because they too can be studied and manipulated by science disrupts our relationship with them, encouraging the undesirable attitude that they are nothing more than things to be probed, consumed and dominated.
To remedy such an alienation, the project of Horkheimer and Adorno is to replace the narrow positivistic and instrumentalist model of rationality with a more humanistic one, in which the values of the aesthetic, moral, sensuous and expressive aspects of human life play a central part.
Thus, their aim is not to give up our rational faculties or powers of analysis and logic. Rather, the ambition is to arrive at a dialectical synthesis between Romanticism and Enlightenment, to return to anti-deterministic values of freedom, spontaneity and creativity. Not only do we stop seeing nature as primarily, or simply, an object of consumption, we are also able to be directly and spontaneously acquainted with nature without interventions from our rational faculties.
The re-enchantment of the world through aesthetic experience, he argues, is also at the same time a re-enchantment of human lives and purposes. Ecocritique does not think that it is paradoxical to say, in the name of ecology itself: It remains to be seen, however, whether the radical attempt to purge the concept of nature from eco-critical work meets with success. On the other hand, the new animists have been much inspired by the serious way in which some indigenous peoples placate and interact with animals, plants and inanimate things through ritual, ceremony and other practices.
According to the new animists, the replacement of traditional animism the view that personalized souls are found in animals, plants, and other material objects by a form of disenchanting positivism directly leads to an anthropocentric perspective, which is accountable for much human destructiveness towards nature. In a disenchanted world, there is no meaningful order of things or events outside the human domain, and there is no source of sacredness or dread of the sort felt by those who regard the natural world as peopled by divinities or demons Stone When a forest is no longer sacred, there are no spirits to be placated and no mysterious risks associated with clear-felling it.
A disenchanted nature is no longer alive. It commands no respect, reverence or love. It is nothing but a giant machine, to be mastered to serve human purposes. The new animists argue for reconceptualizing the boundary between persons and non-persons. Whether the notion that a mountain or a tree is to be regarded as a person is taken literally or not, the attempt to engage with the surrounding world as if it consists of other persons might possibly provide the basis for a respectful attitude to nature see Harvey for a popular account of the new animism.
If disenchantment is a source of environmental problems and destruction, then the new animism can be regarded as attempting to re-enchant, and help to save, nature.
In her work, Freya Mathews has tried to articulate a version of animism or panpsychism that captures ways in which the world not just nature contains many kinds of consciousness and sentience. Instead of bulldozing away old suburbs and derelict factories, the synergistic panpsychist sees these artefacts as themselves part of the living cosmos, hence part of what is to be respected.
Likewise, instead of trying to eliminate feral or exotic plants and animals, and restore environments to some imagined pristine state, ways should be found—wherever possible—to promote synergies between the newcomers and the older native populations in ways that maintain ecological flows and promote the further unfolding and developing of ecological processes Mathews Environmentalism, on his view, is a social movement, and the problems it confronts are social problems.
While Bookchin is prepared, like Horkheimer and Adorno, to regard first nature as an aesthetic and sensuous marvel, he regards our intervention in it as necessary. He suggests that we can choose to put ourselves at the service of natural evolution, to help maintain complexity and diversity, diminish suffering and reduce pollution.
While Bookchin is more of a technological optimist than Mumford, both writers have inspired a regional turn in environmental thinking. Bioregionalism gives regionalism an environmental twist. This is the view that natural features should provide the defining conditions for places of community, and that secure and satisfying local lives are led by those who know a place, have learned its lore and who adapt their lifestyle to its affordances by developing its potential within ecological limits.
Such a life, the bioregionalists argue, will enable people to enjoy the fruits of self-liberation and self-development see the essays in Listand the book-length treatment in Thayerfor an introduction to bioregional thought.
However, critics have asked why natural features should significant in defining the places in which communities are to be built, and have puzzled over exactly which natural features these should be—geological, ecological, climatic, hydrological, and so on see Brennan b. If relatively small, bioregional communities are to be home to flourishing human societies, then a question also arises over the nature of the laws and punishments that will prevail in them, and also of their integration into larger regional and global political and economic groupings.
For anarchists and other critics of the predominant social order, a return to self-governing and self-sufficient regional communities is often depicted as liberating and refreshing. But for the skeptics, the worry remains that the bioregional vision is politically over-optimistic and is open to the establishment of illiberal, stifling and undemocratic communities. Further, given its emphasis on local self-sufficiency and the virtue of life in small communities, a question arises over whether bioregionalism is workable in an overcrowded planet.
Deep ecology, feminism, and social ecology have had a considerable impact on the development of political positions in regard to the environment. Feminist analyses have often been welcomed for the psychological insight they bring to several social, moral and political problems. There is, however, considerable unease about the implications of critical theory, social ecology and some varieties of deep ecology and animism.
A further suggestion is that there is a need to reassess traditional theories such as virtue ethics, which has its origins in ancient Greek philosophy see the following section within the context of a form of stewardship similar to that earlier endorsed by Passmore see Barry If this last claim is correct, then the radical activist need not, after all, look for philosophical support in radical, or countercultural, theories of the sort deep ecology, feminism, bioregionalism and social ecology claim to be but see Zimmerman Traditional Ethical Theories and Contemporary Environment Ethics Although environmental ethicists often try to distance themselves from the anthropocentrism embedded in traditional ethical views PassmoreNorton are exceptionsthey also quite often draw their theoretical resources from traditional ethical systems and theories.
Consider the following two basic moral questions: From this perspective, answers to question 2 are informed by answers to question 1. As the utilitarian focus is the balance of pleasure and pain as such, the question of to whom a pleasure or pain belongs is irrelevant to the calculation and assessment of the rightness or wrongness of actions. Hence, the eighteenth century utilitarian Jeremy Benthamand now Peter Singerhave argued that the interests of all the sentient beings i.
Singer regards the animal liberation movement as comparable to the liberation movements of women and people of colour. Unlike the environmental philosophers who attribute intrinsic value to the natural environment and its inhabitants, Singer and utilitarians in general attribute intrinsic value to the experience of pleasure or interest satisfaction as such, not to the beings who have the experience.
Similarly, for the utilitarian, non-sentient objects in the environment such as plant species, rivers, mountains, and landscapes, all of which are the objects of moral concern for environmentalists, are of no intrinsic but at most instrumental value to the satisfaction of sentient beings see SingerCh. Furthermore, because right actions, for the utilitarian, are those that maximize the overall balance of interest satisfaction over frustration, practices such as whale-hunting and the killing of an elephant for ivory, which cause suffering to non-human animals, might turn out to be right after all: As the result of all the above considerations, it is unclear to what extent a utilitarian ethic can also be an environmental ethic.
This point may not so readily apply to a wider consequentialist approach, which attributes intrinsic value not only to pleasure or satisfaction, but also to various objects and processes in the natural environment. Deontological ethical theories, in contrast, maintain that whether an action is right or wrong is for the most part independent of whether its consequences are good or bad.
From the deontologist perspective, there are several distinct moral rules or duties e. When asked to justify an alleged moral rule, duty or its corresponding right, deontologists may appeal to the intrinsic value of those beings to whom it applies. We have, in particular, a prima facie moral duty not to harm them. Regan maintains that certain practices such as sport or commercial hunting, and experimentation on animals violate the moral right of intrinsically valuable animals to respectful treatment.
Such practices, he argues, are intrinsically wrong regardless of whether or not some better consequences ever flow from them. Exactly which animals have intrinsic value and therefore the moral right to respectful treatment? To be such a subject is a sufficient though not necessary condition for having intrinsic value, and to be a subject-of-a-life involves, among other things, having sense-perceptions, beliefs, desires, motives, memory, a sense of the future, and a psychological identity over time.
Some authors have extended concern for individual well-being further, arguing for the intrinsic value of organisms achieving their own good, whether those organisms are capable of consciousness or not. Furthermore, Taylor maintains that the intrinsic value of wild living things generates a prima facie moral duty on our part to preserve or promote their goods as ends in themselves, and that any practices which treat those beings as mere means and thus display a lack of respect for them are intrinsically wrong.
A more recent and biologically detailed defence of the idea that living things have representations and goals and hence have moral worth is found in Agar Attfield also endorses a form of consequentialism which takes into consideration, and attempts to balance, the many and possibly conflicting goods of different living things also see Varner for a defense of biocentric individualism with affinities to both consequentialist and deontological approaches.
For instance, even if HIV has a good of its own this does not mean that we ought to assign any positive moral weight to the realization of that good. More recently, the distinction between these two traditional approaches has taken its own specific form of development in environmental philosophy. Instead of pitting conceptions of value against conceptions of rights, it has been suggested that there may be two different conceptions of intrinsic value in play in discussion about environmental good and evil.
One the one side, there is the intrinsic value of states of affairs that are to be promoted - and this is the focus of the consequentialist thinkers.
On the other deontological hand there is the intrinsic values of entities to be respected see BradleyMcShane These two different foci for the notion of intrinsic value still provide room for fundamental argument between deontologists and consequentialist to continue, albeit in a somewhat modified form. Note that the ethics of animal liberation or animal rights and biocentrism are both individualistic in that their various moral concerns are directed towards individuals only—not ecological wholes such as species, populations, biotic communities, and ecosystems.
None of these is sentient, a subject-of-a-life, or a teleological-center-of-life, but the preservation of these collective entities is a major concern for many environmentalists.
Moreover, the goals of animal liberationists, such as the reduction of animal suffering and death, may conflict with the goals of environmentalists. For example, the preservation of the integrity of an ecosystem may require the culling of feral animals or of some indigenous animal populations that threaten to destroy fragile habitats. So there are disputes about whether the ethics of animal liberation is a proper branch of environmental ethics see Callicott, SagoffJamiesonCrisp and Varner Criticizing the individualistic approach in general for failing to accommodate conservation concerns for ecological wholes, J.
A straightforward implication of this version of the land ethic is that an individual member of the biotic community ought to be sacrificed whenever that is needed for the protection of the holistic good of the community.
For instance, Callicott maintains that if culling a white-tailed deer is necessary for the protection of the holistic biotic good, then it is a land-ethical requirement to do so.
But, to be consistent, the same point also applies to human individuals because they are also members of the biotic community. Tom Reganp. Under pressure from the charge of ecofascism and misanthropy, Callicott Ch. To further distance himself from the charge of ecofascism, Callicott introduced explicit principles which prioritize obligations to human communities over those to natural ones.
As he put it: The second second-order principle is that stronger interests for lack of a better word generate duties that take precedence over duties generated by weaker interests.
It remains to be seen if this position escapes the charges of misanthropy and totalitarianism laid against earlier holistic and relational theories of value. This, he proposes, is a reason for thinking that individual natural entities should not be treated as mere instruments, and thus a reason for assigning them intrinsic value. Furthermore, he argues that the same moral point applies to the case of natural ecosystems, to the extent that they lack intrinsic function.
Carrying the project of attributing intrinsic value to nature to its ultimate form, Robert Elliot argues that naturalness itself is a property in virtue of possessing which all natural things, events, and states of affairs, attain intrinsic value. Furthermore, Elliot argues that even a consequentialist, who in principle allows the possibility of trading off intrinsic value from naturalness for intrinsic value from other sources, could no longer justify such kind of trade-off in reality.
This is because the reduction of intrinsic value due to the depletion of naturalness on earth, according to him, has reached such a level that any further reduction of it could not be compensated by any amount of intrinsic value generated in other ways, no matter how great it is.
Katz, on the other hand, argues that a restored nature is really just an artifact designed and created for the satisfaction of human ends, and that the value of restored environments is merely instrumental. However, some critics have pointed out that advocates of moral dualism between the natural and the artifactual run the risk of diminishing the value of human life and culture, and fail to recognize that the natural environments interfered with by humans may still have morally relevant qualities other than pure naturalness see Lo Yet, as Bernard Williams points out Williamswe may, paradoxically, need to use our technological powers to retain a sense of something not being in our power.
An important message underlying the debate, perhaps, is that even if ecological restoration is achievable, it might have been better to have left nature intact in the first place.
Given the significance of the concept of naturalness in these debates, it is perhaps surprising that there has been relatively little analysis of that concept itself in environmental thought. In his pioneering work on the ethics of the environment, Holmes Rolston has worked with a number of different conceptions of the natural see Brennan and Lopp.
Indeed, the richness of the language of virtues, and the emphasis on moral character, is sometimes cited as a reason for exploring a virtues-based approach to the complex and always-changing questions of sustainability and environmental care HillWensveenSandler One question central to virtue ethics is what the moral reasons are for acting one way or another. For instance, from the perspective of virtue ethics, kindness and loyalty would be moral reasons for helping a friend in hardship.
From the perspective of virtue ethics, the motivation and justification of actions are both inseparable from the character traits of the acting agent. Furthermore, unlike deontology or consequentialism the moral focus of which is other people or states of the world, one central issue for virtue ethics is how to live a flourishing human life, this being a central concern of the moral agent himself or herself. The connection between morality and psychology is another core subject of investigation for virtue ethics.
It is sometimes suggested that human virtues, which constitute an important aspect of a flourishing human life, must be compatible with human needs and desires, and perhaps also sensitive to individual affection and temperaments. As its central focus is human flourishing as such, virtue ethics may seem unavoidably anthropocentric and unable to support a genuine moral concern for the non-human environment.
Wilderness, the Built Environment, Poverty and Politics Despite the variety of positions in environmental ethics developed over the last thirty years, they have focused mainly on issues concerned with wilderness and the reasons for its preservation see Callicott and Nelson for a collection of essays on the ideas and moral significance of wilderness.MAN
The importance of wilderness experience to the human psyche has been emphasized by many environmental philosophers.
Likewise, the critical theorists believe that aesthetic appreciation of nature has the power to re-enchant human life. An argument by Bryan Norton draws attention to an analogy with music. Someone exposed for the first time to a new musical genre may undergo a transformation in musical preferences, tastes and values as a result of the experience Norton Such a transformation can affect their other preferences and desires too, in both direct and indirect ways see Sarkarch.
By contrast to the focus on wild places, relatively little attention has been paid to the built environment, although this is the one in which most people spend most of their time. In post-war Britain, for example, cheaply constructed new housing developments were often poor replacements for traditional communities.
They have been associated with lower amounts of social interaction and increased crime compared with the earlier situation.
The destruction of highly functional high-density traditional housing, indeed, might be compared with the destruction of highly diverse ecosystems and biotic communities. Some philosophical theories about natural environments and objects have potential to be extended to cover built environments and non-natural objects of several sorts see KingLightPalmerwhile Fox aims to include both built and natural environments in the scope of a single ethical theory.
Certainly there are many parallels between natural and artificial domains: Thus, a new range of moral and political problems open up, including the environmental cost of tourist access to wilderness areas, and ways in which limited access could be arranged to areas of natural beauty and diversity, while maintaining the individual freedoms central to liberal democracies. Lovers of wilderness sometimes consider the high human populations in some developing countries as a key problem underlying the environmental crisis.
But such a view has been criticized for seeming to reveal a degree of misanthropy, directed at those human beings least able to protect and defend themselves see AttfieldBrennan a. Can such an apparently elitist sort of wilderness ethics ever be democratised? These questions so far lack convincing answers. For those in the richer countries, for instance, engaging in outdoor recreations usually involves the motor car.
Car dependency, however, is at the heart of many environmental problems, a key factor in urban pollution, while at the same time central to the economic and military activities of many nations and corporations, for example securing and exploiting oil reserves.
In an increasingly crowded industrialised world, the answers to such problems are pressing. Any adequate study of this intertwined set of problems must involve interdisciplinary collaboration among philosophers and theorists in the social as well as the natural sciences.
Connections between environmental destruction, unequal resource consumption, poverty and the global economic order have been discussed by political scientists, development theorists, geographers and economists as well as by philosophers. Links between economics and environmental ethics are particularly well established. Work by Mark Sagofffor instance, has played a major part in bringing the two fields together.
We pay extra for travel insurance to cover the cost of cancellation, illness, or lost baggage.
Environmental Ethics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Such actions are economically rational. They provide us with some compensation in case of loss. No-one, however, would regard insurance payments as replacing lost limbs, a loved one or even the joys of a cancelled vacation.
So it is for nature, according to Sagoff. We can put dollar values on a stand of timber, a reef, a beach, a national park. We can measure the travel costs, the money spent by visitors, the real estate values, the park fees and all the rest.
If Sagoff is right, cost-benefit analysis of the kind mentioned in section 5 above cannot be a basis for an ethic of sustainability any more than for an ethic of biodiversity.
The potentially misleading appeal to economic reason used to justify the expansion of the corporate sector has also come under critical scrutiny by globalisation theorists see Korten These critiques do not aim to eliminate economics from environmental thinking; rather, they resist any reductive, and strongly anthropocentric, tendency to believe that all social and environmental problems are fundamentally or essentially economic.
Other interdisciplinary approaches link environmental ethics with biology, policy studies, public administration, political theory, cultural history, post-colonial theory, literature, geography, and human ecology for some examples, see Norton, Hutchins, Stevens, MapleShrader-FrechetteGruen and Jamieson eds.
The future development of environmental ethics depend on these, and other interdisciplinary synergies, as much as on its anchorage within philosophy. This report noted the increasing tide of evidence that planetary systems vital to supporting life on earth were under strain. The key question it raised is whether it is equitable to sacrifice options for future well-being in favour of supporting current lifestyles, especially the comfortable, and sometimes lavish, forms of life enjoyed in the rich countries.
In keeping with the non-anthropocentric focus of much environmental philosophy, a care for sustainability and biodiversity can embrace a care for opportunities available to non-human living things. In other words, the differences between individuals, and thus their different interests, should be taken into account. Singer then feeds his principle of equal consideration into a utilitarian ethical framework, whereby the ultimate moral goal is to bring about the greatest possible satisfaction of interests.
This means that such entities have a value of their own, irrespective of their good for other beings or their contribution to some ultimate ethical norm. In effect then, Regan proposes that there are moral limits to what one can do to a subject-of-a-life. This position stands in contrast to Singer who feeds all interests into the utilitarian calculus and bases our moral obligations on what satisfies the greatest number.
Environmental Ethics | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
For example, imagine that it is proven that a particular set of painful experiments on half a dozen pigs will lead to the discovery of some new medicine that will itself alleviate the pain of a few dozen human beings or other sentient animals. However, for Regan there are moral limits to what one can do to an entity with inherent value, irrespective of these overall consequences. But what does all this have to do with environmental ethics? However, extending moral standing to animals also leads to the formulation of particular types of environmental obligations.
For example, even if clearing an area of forest were proven to be of benefit to humans both in the short and long-term, that would not be the end of the matter as far as animal ethics are concerned.
The welfare of the animals residing within and around the forest must also be considered. However, many environmental philosophers have been dissatisfied with these kinds of animal-centered environmental ethics.
Indeed, some have claimed that animal liberation cannot even be considered a legitimate environmental ethic Callicott,Sagoff, For these thinkers, all animal-centered ethics suffer from two fundamental and devastating problems: As for the first point, it is pointed out that our concerns for the environment extend beyond merely worrying about individual creatures. Indeed, the over-abundance of individuals of a particular species of animal can pose a serious threat to the normal functioning of an ecosystem.
For example, many of us will be familiar with the problems rabbits have caused to ecosystems in Australia. Thus, for many environmentalists, we have an obligation to kill these damaging animals.
Clearly, this stands opposed to the conclusions of an ethic that gives such weight to the interests and rights of individual animals. The individualistic nature of an animal-centered ethic also means that it faces difficulty in explaining our concern for the plight of endangered species. After all, if individual conscious entities are all that matter morally, then the last surviving panda must be owed just the same as my pet cat.
For many environmental philosophers this is simply wrong, and priority must be given to the endangered species Rolston III, Animal-centered ethics also face attack for some of the implications of their arguments.
For example, if we have obligations to alleviate the suffering of animals, as these authors suggest, does that mean we must stop predator animals from killing their prey, or partition off prey animals so that they are protected from such attacks Sagoff, ?
Such conclusions not only seem absurd, but also inimical to the environmentalist goal of preserving natural habitats and processes. Having said all of this, I should not over-emphasize the opposition between animal ethics and environmental ethics.
Just because animal ethicists grant moral standing only to conscious individuals, that does not mean that they hold everything else in contempt Jamieson, Holistic entities may not have independent moral standing, according to these thinkers, but that does not equate to ignoring them.
Moreover, the idea that animal ethics imply large-scale interferences in the environment can be questioned when one considers how much harm this would inflict upon predator and scavenger animals.
Nevertheless, clashes of interest between individual animals and other natural entities are inevitable, and when push comes to shove animal ethicists will invariably grant priority to individual conscious animals.
Many environmental ethicists disagree, and are convinced that the boundaries of our ethical concern need to be pushed back further. Individual Living Organisms As noted above, numerous philosophers have questioned the notion that only conscious beings have moral standing. The thought experiment asks us to consider a situation, such as the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, where the only surviving human being is faced with the only surviving tree of its species.
If the individual chops down the tree, no human would be harmed by its destruction. For our purposes we should alter the example and say that all animals have also perished in the holocaust. Would this individual be wrong to destroy the tree? According to a human or animal-centered ethic, it is hard to see why such destruction would be wrong. And yet, many of us have the strong intuition that the individual would act wrongly by chopping down the tree. For some environmental philosophers, this intuition suggests that moral standing should be extended beyond conscious life to include individual living organisms, such as trees.
Of course, and as I have mentioned before, we cannot rely only on intuitions to decide who or what has moral standing. For this reason, a number of philosophers have come up with arguments to justify assigning moral standing to individual living organisms. One of the earliest philosophers to put forward such an argument was Albert Schweitzer. This, after all, would require some kind of conscious experience, which many living things lack. However, perhaps what Schweitzer was getting at was something like Paul W.
For Taylor, this means that living things have a good of their own that they strive towards, even if they lack awareness of this fact. It is this value that grants individual living organisms moral status, and means that we must take the interests and needs of such entities into account when formulating our moral obligations. But if we recognize moral standing in every living thing, how are we then to formulate any meaningful moral obligations? For example we need to walk, eat, shelter and clothe ourselves, all of which will usually involve harming living things.
Of course, this simply begs the question: Taylor attempts to answer this question by advocating a position of general equality between the interests of living things, together with a series of principles in the event of clashes of interest.
First, the principles state that humans are allowed to act in self-defense to prevent harm being inflicted by other living organisms. Second, the basic interests of nonhuman living entities should take priority over the nonbasic or trivial interests of humans.
Third, when basic interests clash, humans are not required to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others Taylor,pp. As several philosophers have pointed out, however, this ethic is still incredibly demanding. For some, this makes the ethic unreasonably burdensome. No doubt because of these worries, other philosophers who accord moral standing to all living organisms have taken a rather different stance. Instead of adopting an egalitarian position on the interests of living things, they propose a hierarchical framework Attfield, and Varner, Such thinkers point out that moral standing is not the same as moral significance.
So while we could acknowledge that plants have moral standing, we might nevertheless accord them a much lower significance than human beings, thus making it easier to justify our use and destruction of them. Nevertheless, several philosophers remain uneasy about the construction of such hierarchies and wonder whether it negates the acknowledgement of moral standing in the first place.
After all, if we accept such a hierarchy, just how low is the moral significance of plants? If it is low enough so that I can eat them, weed them and walk on them, what is the point of granting them any moral standing at all?
There remain two crucial challenges facing philosophers who attribute moral standing to individual living organisms that have not yet been addressed. One challenge comes from the anthropocentric thinkers and animal liberationists. For example, while plants may have a biological good, is it really good of their own? Indeed, there seems to be no sense in which something can be said to be good or bad from the point of view of the plant itself. In response to this challenge, environmental ethicists have pointed out that conscious volition of an object or state is not necessary for that object or state to be a good.
For example, consider a cat that needs worming. It is very unlikely that the cat has any understanding of what worming is, or that he needs worming in order to remain healthy and fit. Similarly, plants and tress may not consciously desire sunlight, water or nutrition, but each, according to some ethicists, can be said to be good for them in that they contribute to their biological flourishing. The second challenge comes from philosophers who question the individualistic nature of these particular ethics.
As mentioned above, these critics do not believe that an environmental ethic should place such a high premium on individuals. For many, this individualistic stance negates important ecological commitments to the interdependence of living things, and the harmony to be found in natural processes. Moreover, it is alleged that these individualistic ethics suffer from the same faults as anthropocentric and animal-centered ethics: Once again, however, a word of caution is warranted here.
Often the equilibrium of these entities is taken extremely seriously See Taylor,p. However, it must be remembered that such concern is extended only insofar as such equilibrium is necessary in order for individual living organisms to flourish; the wholes themselves have no independent moral standing. For Leopold, land is not merely soil. Instead, land is a fountain of energy, flowing through a circuit of soils, plants and animals.
While food chains conduct the energy upwards from the soil, death and decay returns the energy back to the soil. Thus, the flow of energy relies on a complex structure of relations between living things. For one thing, it seems that Leopold jumps too quickly from a descriptive account of how the land is, to a prescriptive account of what we ought to do. What precisely is it about the biotic community that makes it deserving of moral standing?
Unfortunately, Leopold seems to offer no answers to these important questions, and thus no reason to build our environmental obligations around his land ethic. Baird Callicott has argued that such criticisms of Leopold are unfair and misplaced. According to Callicott, Leopold lies outside of mainstream moral theory. Thus, the question is not, what quality does the land possess that makes it worthy of moral standing?
But rather, how do we feel about the land Callicott, ? In this light, the land ethic can be seen as an injunction to broaden our moral sentiments beyond self-interest, and beyond humanity to include the whole biotic community. Of course, some have questioned whether sentiment and feelings are suitable foundations for an environmental ethic.
After all, there seem to be plenty of people out there who have no affection for the biotic community whatsoever. In the search for more concrete foundations, Lawrence E.
Johnson has built an alternative case for according moral standing to holistic entities Johnson, Johnson claims that once we recognize that interests are not always tied to conscious experience, the door is opened to the possibility of nonconscious entities having interests and thus moral standing. So, just as breathing oxygen is in the interests of a child, even though the child has neither a conscious desire for oxygen, nor any understanding of what oxygen is, so do species have an interest in fulfilling their nature.
This is because both have a good of their own, based on the integrated functioning of their life processes ibid. Children can flourish as living things, and so too can species and ecosystems; so, according to Johnson, both have interests that must be taken into account in our ethical deliberations.
But even if we accept that moral standing should be extended to holistic entities on this basis, we still need to consider how we are then to flesh out our moral obligations concerning the environment. For some, this is where holistic ethics fail to convince. In particular, it has been claimed that holistic ethics condone sacrificing individuals for the sake of the whole.
Now while many holistic philosophers do explicitly condone sacrificing individuals in some situations, for example by shooting rabbits to preserve plant species, they are reluctant to sacrifice human interests in similar situations. In response, proponents of such ethics have claimed that acknowledging moral standing in holistic entities does not mean that one must deny the interests and rights of human beings. While this is obviously true, that still leaves the question of what to do when the interests of wholes clash with the interests of individuals.
If humans cannot be sacrificed for the good of the whole, why can rabbits? The answer that has been put forward by Callicott claims that while the biotic community matters morally, it is not the only community that matters. Thus, our obligations to the biotic community may require the culling of rabbits, but may not require the culling of humans. This is because we are part of a tight-knit human community, but only a very loose human-rabbit community. In this way, we can adjudicate clashes of interest, based on our community commitments.
This communitarian proposal certainly seems a way out of the dilemma. Unfortunately, it faces two key problems: As for the first point, if deciding on our community attachments is left up to individuals themselves, this will lead to quite diverse and even repugnant moral obligations. For example, if an individual believes that he has a much stronger attachment to white males than to black women, does this mean that he can legitimately favor the interests of the former over the latter?
If not, and an objective standard is to be imposed, we are left with the enormous problem of discovering this standard and reaching consensus on it. Without doubt, extending moral standing to the degree of holistic ethics requires some extremely careful argumentation when it comes to working out the precise content of our environmental obligations. Radical Ecology Not all philosophers writing on our obligations concerning the environment see the problem simply in terms of extending moral standing.
First of all, none see extending moral standing as sufficient to resolve the environmental crisis. They argue that a broader philosophical perspective is needed, requiring fundamental changes in both our attitude to and understanding of reality. This involves reexamining who we are as human beings and our place within the natural world. For radical ecologists, ethical extensionism is inadequate because it is stuck in the traditional ways of thinking that led to these environmental problems in the first place.
In short, it is argued that ethical extensionism remains too human-centered, because it takes human beings as the paradigm examples of entities with moral standing and then extends outwards to those things considered sufficiently similar. Secondly, none of these radical ecologies confine themselves solely to the arena of ethics.
Instead, radical ecologies also demand fundamental changes in society and its institutions. In other words, these ideologies have a distinctively political element, requiring us to confront the environmental crisis by changing the very way we live and function, both as a society and as individuals.
According to deep ecologists, shallow ecology is anthropocentric and concerned with pollution and resource depletion. Shallow ecology might thus be regarded as very much the mainstream wing of environmentalism. In other words, deep ecologists are not aiming to formulate moral principles concerning the environment to supplement our existing ethical framework.
Instead, they demand an entirely new worldview and philosophical perspective. While the various eco-philosophies that have developed within deep ecology are diverse, Naess and George Sessions have compiled a list of eight principles or statements that are basic to deep ecology: The well-being and flourishing of human and non-human life on Earth have value in themselves synonyms: These values are independent of the usefulness of the non-human world for human purposes.
Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantially smaller population. The flourishing of non-human life requiresa smaller human population.
Present human interference with the non-human world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening. Policies must therefore be changed.
These policies affect basic economic, technological and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.
The ideological change will be mainly that of appreciating life quality dwelling in situations of inherent value rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between bigness and greatness.
Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to try to implement the necessary changes Naess, In other words deep ecologists do not offer one unified ultimate perspective, but possess various and divergent philosophical and religious allegiances.
Moving to this wider Self involves recognizing that as human beings we are not removed from nature, but are interconnected with it. Recognizing our wider Self thus involves identifying ourselves with all other life forms on the planet. For Fox, as with Naess, this consciousness involves our widest possible identification with the non-human world. The usual ethical concern of formulating principles and obligations thus becomes unnecessary, according to Fox, for once the appropriate consciousness is established, one will naturally protect the environment and allow it to flourish, for that will be part and parcel of the protection and flourishing of oneself Fox, Critics of deep ecology argue that it is just too vague to address real environmental concerns.
For one thing, in its refusal to reject so many worldviews and philosophical perspectives, many have claimed that it is difficult to uncover just what deep ecology advocates. For example, on the one hand, Naess offers us eight principles that deep ecologists should accept, and on the other he claims that deep ecology is not about drawing up codes of conduct, but adopting a global comprehensive attitude.
In particular, just how are we to deal with clashes of interests? According to the third principle, for example, humans have no right to reduce the richness and diversity of the natural world unless to meet vital needs.
But does that mean we are under an obligation to protect the richness and diversity of the natural world? If so, perhaps we could cull non-native species such as rabbits when they damage ecosystems. But then, the first principle states that non-human beings such as rabbits have inherent value, and the fifth principle states that human interference in nature is already excessive.
So just what should we do? Clearly, the principles as stated by Naess and Sessions are too vague to offer any real guide for action. However, perhaps principles are not important, as both Naess and Fox have claimed. Instead, they claim that we must rely on the fostering of the appropriate states of consciousness. Unfortunately, two problems remain. First of all, it is not at all clear that all conflicts of interest will be resolved by the adoption of the appropriate state of consciousness.
For even if I identify myself with all living things, some of those things, such as bacteria and viruses, may still threaten me as a discrete living organism.
At this point deep ecologists would object that such criticisms remain rooted in the ideology that has caused so much of the crisis we now face. For example, take the point about persuading others. Deep ecologists claim that argument and debate are not the only means we must use to help people realize their ecological consciousness; we must also use such things as poetry, music and art. This relates back to the point I made at the beginning of the section: Whether such a radical shift in the way we think about ourselves and the environment is possible, remains to be seen.
Social Ecology Social ecology shares with deep ecology the view that the foundations of the environmental crisis lie in the dominant ideology of modern western societies. Thus, just as with deep ecology, social ecology claims that in order to resolve the crisis, a radical overhaul of this ideology is necessary.
Indeed, domination is the key theme in the writings of Murray Bookchin, the most prominent social ecologist. For Bookchin, environmental problems are directly related to social problems.