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Philosophy gone wild : essays in environmental ethics …
For instance, ecology as a science does not askwhat kind of a society would be the best for maintaining a particular ecosystem- that is considered a question for value theory, for politics, for ethics Whatwe need today is a tremendous expansion of ecological thinking in whatI call ecosophy.
Conservation,ecology, and ethics are closely linked when you realize conservation iscornerstone to the health of our environment and an environmental ethicwill ultimately value the biodiversity we so desperately need to save.
Philosophy Gone Wild: Environmental Ethics - PhilPapers
More recently, the distinction between these two traditionalapproaches has taken its own specific form of development inenvironmental philosophy. Instead of pitting conceptions of valueagainst conceptions of rights, it has been suggested that there may betwo different conceptions of intrinsic value in play in discussionabout environmental good and evil. One the one side, there is theintrinsic value of states of affairs that are to be promoted - andthis is the focus of the consequentialist thinkers. On the other(deontological) hand there is the intrinsic values of entities to berespected (see Bradley 2006, McShane 2014). These two different focifor the notion of intrinsic value still provide room for fundamentalargument between deontologists and consequentialist to continue,albeit in a somewhat modified form.
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 tothe calculation and assessment of the rightness or wrongness ofactions. Hence, the eighteenth century utilitarian Jeremy Bentham(1789), and now Peter Singer (1993), have argued that the interests ofall the sentient beings (i.e., beings who are capable of experiencingpleasure or pain)—including non-human ones—affected by an actionshould be taken equally into consideration in assessing theaction. Furthermore, rather like Routley (see section 2 above), Singerargues that the anthropocentric privileging of members of the speciesHomo sapiens is arbitrary, and that it is a kind of“speciesism” as unjustifiable as sexism and racism. Singerregards the animal liberation movement as comparable to the liberationmovements of women and people of colour. Unlike the environmentalphilosophers who attribute intrinsic value to the natural environmentand its inhabitants, Singer and utilitarians in general attributeintrinsic value to the experience of pleasure or interest satisfactionas such, not to the beings who have the experience. Similarly, for theutilitarian, non-sentient objects in the environment such as plantspecies, rivers, mountains, and landscapes, all of which are theobjects of moral concern for environmentalists, are of no intrinsicbut at most instrumental value to the satisfaction of sentient beings(see Singer 1993, Ch. 10). Furthermore, because right actions, for theutilitarian, are those that maximize the overall balance of interestsatisfaction over frustration, practices such as whale-hunting and thekilling of an elephant for ivory, which cause suffering to non-humananimals, might turn out to be right after all: such practices mightproduce considerable amounts of interest-satisfaction for humanbeings, which, on the utilitarian calculation, outweigh the non-humaninterest-frustration involved. As the result of all the aboveconsiderations, it is unclear to what extent a utilitarian ethic canalso be an environmental ethic. This point may not so readily apply toa wider consequentialist approach, which attributes intrinsic valuenot only to pleasure or satisfaction, but also to various objects andprocesses in the natural environment.
Philosophy Gone Wild: Environmental Ethics
Individual natural entities (whether sentient or not, living or not),Andrew Brennan (1984, 2014) argues, are not designed by anyone to fulfillany purpose and therefore lack “intrinsic function” (i.e.,the function of a thing that constitutes part of its essence oridentity conditions). This, he proposes, is a reason for thinking thatindividual natural entities should not be treated as mere instruments,and thus a reason for assigning them intrinsic value. Furthermore, heargues that the same moral point applies to the case of naturalecosystems, to the extent that they lack intrinsic function. In thelight of Brennan’s proposal, Eric Katz (1991 and 1997) argues that allnatural entities, whether individuals or wholes, have intrinsic valuein virtue of their ontological independence from human purpose,activity, and interest, and maintains the deontological principle thatnature as a whole is an “autonomous subject” which deservesmoral respect and must not be treated as a mere means to humanends. Carrying the project of attributing intrinsic value to nature toits ultimate form, Robert Elliot (1997) argues that naturalness itselfis 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 allowsthe possibility of trading off intrinsic value from naturalness forintrinsic value from other sources, could no longer justify such kindof trade-off in reality. This is because the reduction of intrinsicvalue due to the depletion of naturalness on earth, according to him,has reached such a level that any further reduction of it could not becompensated by any amount of intrinsic value generated in other ways,no matter how great it is.
Under pressure from the charge of ecofascism and misanthropy,Callicott (1989 Ch. 5, and 1999, Ch. 4) later revised his position andnow maintains that the biotic community (indeed, any community towhich we belong) as well as its individual members (indeed, anyindividual who shares with us membership in some common community) allhave intrinsic value. To further distance himself from the charge ofecofascism, Callicott introduced explicit principles which prioritizeobligations to human communities over those to natural ones. Hecalled these “second-order” principles for specifying theconditions under which the land ethic’s holistic and individualisticobligations were to be ranked. As he put it:
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Philosophy Gone Wild Essays In Environmental Ethics
The relatively recent emergence of deep ecology has been the first prominentethical movement that is based on the integrative insights of intrinsicvalue.
Philosophy Gone Wild: Essays in Environmental Ethics …
Note that the ethics of animal liberation or animal rights andbiocentrism are both individualistic in that their variousmoral concerns are directed towards individuals only—not ecologicalwholes such as species, populations, biotic communities, andecosystems. None of these is sentient, a subject-of-a-life, or ateleological-center-of-life, but the preservation of these collectiveentities is a major concern for many environmentalists. Moreover, thegoals of animal liberationists, such as the reduction of animalsuffering and death, may conflict with the goals ofenvironmentalists. For example, the preservation of the integrity ofan ecosystem may require the culling of feral animals or of someindigenous animal populations that threaten to destroy fragile habitats. Sothere are disputes about whether the ethics of animal liberation is aproper branch of environmental ethics (see Callicott 1980, 1988,Sagoff 1984, Jamieson 1998, Crisp 1998 and Varner 2000).
The agenda is well set in Philosophy Gone Wild." (Ethics ..
Deep ecology, feminism, and social ecology have had a considerableimpact on the development of political positions in regard to theenvironment. Feminist analyses have often been welcomed for thepsychological insight they bring to several social, moral andpolitical problems. There is, however, considerable unease about theimplications of critical theory, social ecology and some varieties ofdeep ecology and animism. Some writers have argued, forexample, that critical theory is bound to be ethicallyanthropocentric, with nature as no more than a “socialconstruction” whose value ultimately depends on humandeterminations (see Vogel 1996). Others have argued that the demandsof “deep” green theorists and activists cannot beaccommodated within contemporary theories of liberal politics andsocial justice (see Ferry 1998). A further suggestion is that there isa need to reassess traditional theories such as virtue ethics, whichhas its origins in ancient Greek philosophy (see the followingsection) within the context of a form of stewardship similar to thatearlier endorsed by Passmore (see Barry 1999). If this last claim iscorrect, then the radical activist need not, after all, look forphilosophical support in radical, or countercultural, theories of thesort deep ecology, feminism, bioregionalism and social ecology claimto be (but see Zimmerman 1994).
Philosophy Gone Wild: Environmental Ethics: …
Despite the variety of positions in environmental ethics developedover the last thirty years, they have focused mainly on issuesconcerned with wilderness and the reasons for its preservation (seeCallicott and Nelson 1998 for a collection of essays on the ideas andmoral significance of wilderness). The importance of wildernessexperience to the human psyche has been emphasized by manyenvironmental philosophers. Næss, for instance, urges us toensure we spend time dwelling in situations of intrinsic value,whereas Rolston seeks “re-creation” of the human soul bymeditating in the wilderness. Likewise, the critical theorists believethat aesthetic appreciation of nature has the power to re-enchanthuman life. As wilderness becomes increasingly rare, people’s exposureto wild things in their natural state has become reduced, andaccording to some authors this may reduce the chance of our lives andother values being transformed as a result of interactions withnature. An argument by Bryan Norton draws attention to an analogywith music. Someone exposed for the first time to a new musical genremay undergo a transformation in musical preferences, tastes and valuesas a result of the experience (Norton 1987. Such a transformation canaffect their other preferences and desires too, in both direct andindirect ways (see Sarkar 2005, ch. 4, esp. pp. 82–7). In theattempt to preserve opportunities for experiences that can change orenhance people’s valuations of nature, there has been a move since theearly 2000s to find ways of rewilding degraded environments, and evenparts of cities (Fraser 2009, Monbiot 2013).(
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