The Challenge of Environmental Ethics Suppose putting out natural fires, culling feral animals or destroying some individual members of overpopulated indigenous species is necessary for the protection of the integrity of a certain ecosystem.
Will these actions be morally permissible or even required?
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|Although Bernheim did not explicitly talk about virtue, the article shows that his Lehrbuch nonetheless considers self-distanciation a matter of virtuous behavior, targeted at an aim that may not be fully realizable, but ought to be pursued with all possible vigor.|
Is it morally acceptable for farmers in non-industrial countries to practise slash and burn techniques to clear areas for agriculture? Consider a mining company which has performed open pit mining in some previously unspoiled area.
Does the company have a moral obligation to restore the landform and surface ecology? And what is the value of a humanly restored environment compared with the originally natural environment?
If that is wrong, is it simply because a sustainable environment is essential to present and future human well-being? These are among the questions investigated by environmental ethics. Some of them are specific questions faced by individuals in particular circumstances, while others are more global questions faced by groups and communities.
Yet others are more abstract questions concerning the value and moral standing of the natural environment and its non-human components. The former is the value of things as means to further some other ends, whereas the latter is the value of things as ends in themselves regardless of whether they are also useful as means to other ends.
For instance, certain fruits have instrumental value for bats who feed on them, since feeding on the fruits is a means to survival for the bats. However, it is not widely agreed that fruits have value as ends in themselves.
We can likewise think of a person who teaches others as having instrumental value for those who want to acquire knowledge. Yet, in addition to any such value, it is normally said that a person, as a person, has intrinsic value, i. For another example, a certain wild plant may have instrumental value because it provides the ingredients for some medicine or as an aesthetic object for human observers.
But if the plant also has some value in itself independently of its prospects for furthering some other ends such as human health, or the pleasure from aesthetic experience, then the plant also has intrinsic value. Many traditional western ethical perspectives, however, are anthropocentric or human-centered in that either they assign intrinsic value to human beings alone i.
For example, Aristotle Politics, Bk. Generally, anthropocentric positions find it problematic to articulate what is wrong with the cruel treatment of non-human animals, except to the extent that such treatment may lead to bad consequences for human beings.
From this standpoint, cruelty towards non-human animals would be instrumentally, rather than intrinsically, wrong. Likewise, anthropocentrism often recognizes some non-intrinsic wrongness of anthropogenic i.
Such destruction might damage the well-being of human beings now and in the future, since our well-being is essentially dependent on a sustainable environment see Passmore ; Bookchin ; Norton et al.
When environmental ethics emerged as a new sub-discipline of philosophy in the early s, it did so by posing a challenge to traditional anthropocentrism. In the first place, it questioned the assumed moral superiority of human beings to members of other species on earth.
In the second place, it investigated the possibility of rational arguments for assigning intrinsic value to the natural environment and its non-human contents. It should be noted, however, that some theorists working in the field see no need to develop new, non-anthropocentric theories.
Instead, they advocate what may be called enlightened anthropocentrism or, perhaps more appropriately called, prudential anthropocentrism. Briefly, this is the view that all the moral duties we have towards the environment are derived from our direct duties to its human inhabitants. Enlightened anthropocentrism, they argue, is sufficient for that practical purpose, and perhaps even more effective in delivering pragmatic outcomes, in terms of policy-making, than non-anthropocentric theories given the theoretical burden on the latter to provide sound arguments for its more radical view that the non-human environment has intrinsic value cf.
Nortonde ShalitLight and Katz Furthermore, some prudential anthropocentrists may hold what might be called cynical anthropocentrism, which says that we have a higher-level anthropocentric reason to be non-anthropocentric in our day-to-day thinking. Suppose that a day-to-day non-anthropocentrist tends to act more benignly towards the non-human environment on which human well-being depends.
This would provide reason for encouraging non-anthropocentric thinking, even to those who find the idea of non-anthropocentric intrinsic value hard to swallow.
The position can be structurally compared to some indirect form of consequentialism and may attract parallel critiques see Henry Sidgwick on utilitarianism and esoteric morality, and Bernard Williams on indirect utilitarianism.
The Early Development of Environmental Ethics Although nature was the focus of much nineteenth and twentieth century philosophy, contemporary environmental ethics only emerged as an academic discipline in the s.
The questioning and rethinking of the relationship of human beings with the natural environment over the last thirty years reflected an already widespread perception in the s that the late twentieth century faced a human population explosion as well as a serious environmental crisis.
Commercial farming practices aimed at maximizing crop yields and profits, Carson speculates, are capable of impacting simultaneously on environmental and public health.
In a much cited essay White on the historical roots of the environmental crisis, historian Lynn White argued that the main strands of Judeo-Christian thinking had encouraged the overexploitation of nature by maintaining the superiority of humans over all other forms of life on earth, and by depicting all of nature as created for the use of humans.
Central to the rationale for his thesis were the works of the Church Fathers and The Bible itself, supporting the anthropocentric perspective that humans are the only things that matter on Earth.
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The book begins with an in-depth reappraisal of John Maynard Keynes, the prime architect of modern economics. The study revealed that the entirely new aspects of Keynes and discuss illuminatingly not only economic, but also philosophical, anthropological, political and historical questions.
The book has been divided into two sections. The first section comprises in-depth reappraisal of Keynes. The unexplored Keynes and other essays: a socio-economic miscellany – By Anand Chandavarkar.
Environmental ethics is the discipline in philosophy that studies the moral relationship of human beings to, and also the value and moral status of, the environment and its non-human contents.
Get this from a library! The unexplored Keynes and other essays: a socio-economic miscellany. [Anand G Chandavarkar] -- On John Maynard Keynes, , British economist and his theories and miscellanious economic issues; articles.
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