A role of environmental ethics in modern society

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Kyiv national university of culture and arts


“ A Role of the Environmental Ethics in the modern society”

Executed by: student of TBA-40 group

Faculty: direction and television

Radchenko Nataliya


A Role of the Environmental Ethics in the modern society. INCLUDEPICTURE
\d “http://www.cep.unt.edu/images/ee.gif”

The inspiration for environmental ethics was the first Earth Day in 1970
when environmentalists started urging philosophers who were involved
with environmental groups to do something about environmental ethics. An
intellectual climate had developed in the last few years of the 1960s in
large part because of the publication of two papers in Science: Lynn
White`s “The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis” (March 1967) and
Garett Hardin`s “The Tragedy of the Commons” (December 1968). Most
influential with regard to this kind of thinking, however, was an essay
in Aldo Leopold`s A Sand County Almanac, “The Land Ethic,” in which
Leopold explicitly claimed that the roots of the ecological crisis were
philosophical. (Although originally published in 1949, Sand County
Almanac became widely available in 1970 in a special Sierra
Club/Ballantine edition, which included essays from a second book, Round

Most academic activity in the 1970s was spent debating the Lynn White
thesis and the tragedy of the commons. These debates were primarily
historical, theological, and religious, not philosophical. Throughout
most of the decade philosophers sat on the sidelines trying to determine
what a field called environmental ethics might look like. The first
philosophical conference was organised by William Blackstone at the
University of Georgia in 1972. The proceedings were published as
Philosophy and Environmental Crisis in 1974, which included HYPERLINK
“/vpayg.html” Pete Gunte r`s first paper on the Big Thicket. In 1972 a
book called HYPERLINK “http://www.cep.unt.edu/eebooks.html” \l “Too
Late” Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology , written by John B. Cobb,
was published. It was the first single-authored book written by a
philosopher, even though the primary focus of the book was theological
and religious. In 1973 an Australian philosopher, Richard Routley (now
Sylvan), presented a paper at the 15th World Congress of Philosophy “Is
There a Need for a New, an Environmental, Ethic?” A year later John
Passmore, another Australian, wrote Man’s Responsibility for Nature, in
which, reacting to Routley, he argued that there was no need for an
environmental ethic at all. Most debates among philosophers until the
mid-1980s was focused on refuting Passmore. In 1975 environmental ethics
came to the attention of mainstream philosophy with the publication of
Holmes Rolston, III`s paper, “Is There an Ecological Ethic?” in Ethics.

Arne Naess, a Norwegian philosopher and the founding editor of the
journal Inquiry authored and published a paper in Inquiry “The Shallow
and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement” in 1973, which was the
beginning of the deep ecology movement. Important writers in this
movement include George Sessions, Bill DeVall, Warwick Fox, and, in some
respects, HYPERLINK “http://www.cep.unt.edu/vmo.html” Max Oelschlaeger

Throughout the 1970s Inquiry was the primary philosophy journal that
dealt with environmental ethics. Environmental ethics was, for the most
part, considered a curiosity and mainstream philosophy journals rarely
published more than one article per year, if that. Opportunities for
publishing dramatically improved in 1979 when HYPERLINK
“http://www.cep.unt.edu/vech.html” Eugene C. Hargrove founded the
journal HYPERLINK “http://www.cep.unt.edu/enethics.html” Environmental
Ethics . The name of the journal became the name of the field.

The first five years of the journal was spent mostly arguing about
rights for nature and the relationship of environmental ethics and
animal rights/animal liberation. Rights lost and animal welfare ethics
was determined to be a separate field. HYPERLINK
“http://arrs.envirolink.org/essays/regan_deep.html” Animal rights has
since developed as a separate field with a separate journal, first,
Ethics and Animals, which was later superseded by HYPERLINK
“http://www.cep.unt.edu/between.html” Between the Species .

Cobb published another book in the early 1980s, HYPERLINK
“http://www.cep.unt.edu/eebooks.html” \l “Liberation” The Liberation of
Life with co-author Charles Birch. This book took a process philosophy
approach in accordance with the philosophy of organism of Alfred North
Whitehead. Robin Attfield, a philosopher in Wales, wrote a book called
The Ethics of Environmental Concern. It was the first full-length
response to Passmore. An anthology of papers, Ethics and the
Environment, was edited by Donald Scherer and Tom Attig.

There was a turning point about 1988 when many single-authored books
began to come available: Paul Taylor`s Respect for Nature; Holmes
Rolston`s Environmental Ethics; Mark Sagoff`s The Economy of the Earth;
and HYPERLINK “http://www.cep.unt.edu/vech.html” Eugene C. Hargrove `s
HYPERLINK “http://www.cep.unt.edu/eebooks.html” \l “found” Foundations
of Environmental Ethics . HYPERLINK “http://www.cep.unt.edu/vjbc.html”
J. Baird Callicott created a collection of his papers, In Defence of
the Land Ethic. Bryan Norton wrote Why Preserve Natural Diversity?
followed more recently by Toward Unity among Environmentalists. A large
number of books have been written by Kristin Shrader-Frechette on
economics and policy.

In the 1980s a second movement, ecofeminism, developed. Karen Warren is
the key philosopher, although the ecofeminism movement involves many
thinkers from other fields. It was then followed by a third, social
ecology, based on the views of Murray Bookchin. An important link
between academics and radical environmentalists was established with the
creation of the Canadian deep ecology journal, HYPERLINK
“/trumpeter.html” The Trumpeter . In 1989, HYPERLINK
“http://www.center1.com/ethics.html” Earth Ethics Quarterly was begun
as a more popular environmental publication. Originally intended
primarily as a reprint publication, now as a publication of the
HYPERLINK “http://www.center1.com/crle.html” Centre for Respect for Life
and Environment , it is focused more on international sustainable

The 1990s began with the establishment of the HYPERLINK “/ISEE.html”
International Society for Environmental Ethics , which was founded
largely through the efforts of Laura Westra and Holmes Rolston, III. It
now has members throughout the world. In 1992, a second refereed
philosophy journal, dedicated to environmental ethics, HYPERLINK
“/values.html” Environmental Values published its first issue in

On the theoretical level, Taylor and Rolston, despite many
disagreements, can be regarded as objective nonanthropocentric intrinsic
value theorists. HYPERLINK “http://www.cep.unt.edu/vjbc.html” Callicott
, who follows Aldo Leopold closely, is a subjective nonanthropocentric
intrinsic value theorist. HYPERLINK “http://www.cep.unt.edu/vech.html”
Hargrove is considered a weak anthropocentric intrinsic value theorist.
Sagoff is very close to this position although he doesn’t talk about
intrinsic value much and takes a Kantian rather than an Aristotlian
approach. At the far end is Bryan Norton who thought up weak
anthropocentrism but wants to replace intrinsic value with a pragmatic
conception of value.

A brief history of environmental consciousness in the western world
places our views in perspective and provides a context for understanding
the maze of related and unrelated thoughts, philosophies, and practices
that we call “environmentalism.” Understanding where the questions being
asked and analysed are coming from is essential in environmental
analysis: the kinds of questions asked by an environmental group and
their interpretation of the results can be vastly different from, for
example, a utility, logging company or special interest (ranchers
grazing public lands, and so forth).

The term “environmental ethics,” in fact the whole field, is a very
recent phenomenum, actually only several decades old, although many
particular concerns or philosophical threads have been developing for
several centuries. A Professor named Eugene Hargroves began a journal he
named Environmental Ethics in the late 1970s in which controversies
regarding environmental behaviour and visions could be discussed. This
name became an umbrella for a group of strange bedfellows. A controversy
had begun in 1974 when an Australian named John Passmore published a
book called “Man`s responsibility for nature: ecological problems and
western traditions” in which he argued that environmental preservation
and concern was inconsistent with western tradition. Robin Attfield
replied 1983 in a book entitled “The ethics of environmental concern” by
holding that the stewardship tradition was more important than dominion
in western thought, and that this is what forms the foundation for
environmental ethics. Environmental ethics is a collection of
independent ethical generalisations, not a tight, rationally ordered set
of rules. Environmental ethics will be a compilation of interrelated
independent guidelines – a process field that will be coming together
for a long time.

Ethics really flow from peoples perceptions, attitudes and behaviour –
as in the case of environmental ethics and animal liberation. Like
chess, decision making in life is very perceptual or intuitive – by
analogy, there are l) favourite formations (of players or arguments); 2)
empirical investigation of these (with maximum and minimum
expectations); which leads to a progressive deepening of perspective.

The problem is only dimly perceived in the beginning, but becomes
clearer with thought and re-examination. What holds a chess game
together is not the rules but the experience the individual player. A
grand master at chess sees more on a chessboard in a few seconds than an
average player sees in thirty minutes.

Environmental ethics today encompasses a diverse, not necessarily
related, anthology including:

1. Animal rights.

2. The Land Ethic.

3. Ecofeminism.

4. Deep Ecology.

5. Shallow Ecology.

6. The rights of rocks, and so forth.

8. Bioethics.

Bioethics could be defined as the study of ethical issues and
decision-making associated with the use of living organisms and
medicine. It includes both medical ethics and environmental ethics.
Rather than defining a correct decision it is about the process of
decision-making balancing different benefits, risks and duties. The word
“bioethics” was first used in 1970, however, the concept of bioethics is
much older, as we can see in the ethics formulated and debated in
literature, art, music and the general cultural and religious traditions
of our ancestors.

Society is facing many important decisions about the use of science and
technology. These decisions affect the environment, human health,
society and international policy. To resolve these issues, and develop
principles to help us make decisions we need to involve anthropology,
sociology, biology, medicine, religion, psychology, philosophy, and
economics; we must combine the scientific rigour of biological data,
with the values of religion and philosophy to develop a world-view.
Bioethics is therefore challenged to be a multi-sided and thoughtful
approach to decision-making so that it may be relevant to all aspects of
human life.

The term bioethics reminds us of the combination of biology and ethics,
topics that are intertwined. New technology can be a catalyst for our
thinking about issues of life, and we can think of the examples like
assisted reproductive technologies, life sustaining technology, organ
transplantation, and genetics, which have been stimuli for research into
bioethics in the last few decades. Another stimulus has been the
environmental problems.

There are large and small problems in ethics. We can think of problems
that involve the whole world, and problems which involve a single
person. We can think of global problems, such as the depletion of the
ozone layer which is increasing UV radiation affecting all living
organisms. This problem could be solved by individual action to stop
using ozone-depleting chemicals, if alternatives are available to
consumers. However, global action was taken to control the problem. The
international convention to stop the production of many ozone-depleting
chemicals is one of the best examples yet of applying universal
environmental ethics.

Another problem is greenhouse warming, which results mainly from energy
use. This problem however can only be solved by individual action to
reduce energy use, because we cannot easily ban the use of energy. We
could do this by turning off lights, turning down heaters and air
conditioners, building more energy efficient buildings, shutting doors,
and driving with a light foot. These are all simple actions which
everyone must do if we are concerned about our planet, yet not many do
so. Energy consumption could be reduced 50-80% by lifestyle change with
current technology if people wanted to. New technology may help, but
lifestyle change can have much more immediate affect.

Environmental ethics is a relatively new field – and the name
“environmental ethics” derives from Eugene Hargrove`s journal, which was
begun in late 1970s.

This field – environmental ethics, – will be subsumed as other areas of
applied ethics develop more fully. The early pieces or threads of
environmental ethics were disconnected…one needs a quick review to
fully comprehend today`s “whole” – and know the directions in which the
threads lead.

Environmental ethicists as well as policy-makers, activists etc.
frequently speak about the need for preservation of various parts of
nature. Two main grounds are repeatedly presented for this need:

1. Our moral responsibilities to future human beings (sometimes called
sustainable development) require that we stop using technology and
science for short-term gains at the expense of long-term risks of very
negative ecological effects for future people. In several official
declarations and policy-documents this idea has been expressed as “the
precautionary principle”, roughly the idea that we should not use
particular means of production, distribution etc. unless they have been
shown not to effect too serious risks. However, it is far from clear
what is meant by this. What determines whether or not the effecting of a
certain risk (in order to secure some short-term gain) is too serious or
not? – and what determines whether or not this has been “shown”? Some
traditional decision-theorists would say that it is a question of
traditional instrumental efficiency (i.e. rationality) in relation to
morally respectable aims. Some ethicists would instead claim that it is
a question of whether or not the severity of the scenario illustrating
an actualisation of the risk in question makes the taking of this risk
morally wrong in itself. Others, yet, hint that they want to take a
stand in between these two extremes, however, without specifying what
this could mean. There is also a rather grim debate regarding whether or
not it can ever be shown that a certain action does not effect too
serious risks, and this of course depends on what requirements should be
laid on someone who purports to show such a thing. In both cases, the,
the questions seem to boil down to basic issues regarding what is
required of risky decisions in order to make them morally justified.
But, obviously, it must be a kind of moral justification different from
the one dealt with by traditional ethical theories of the rights and
wrongs of actions, since these only deal with justification in terms of
actual outcomes, not in terms of risks for such outcomes.

2. Natural systems possess a value in themselves which makes them worth
preserving also at the expense of human well-being and man-made
constructs. This idea is less common in official documents than the
former (although it is explicitely set out as a part of the basis of the
Swedish Environmental Policy Act) than it is among environmenonmental
philosophers and ethicists. However, also this idea is far from clear,
since it is not clear neither how a natural system is to be
distinguished from a non-natural one and why this difference is to be
taken as morally relevant, nor why preservation is the only
recommendation which follows from the placing of an intrinsic value in
nature. Although there are several suggestion on what it is that makes
certain systems intrinsically valuable, it is has not been sufficiently
explained, first, why these characteristics (typically complexity,
self-preservation/replication, beauty etc.) do not justify preservation
also of systems normally not taken to be natural (such as metropolitan
areas, hamburger restaurants or nuclear power-plants), secondly, why
this value does not imply a recommendation to reshape rather than
preserve natural systems, in order to increase the presence and
magnitude of the value-making characteristics. In particular, it seems
to be a challenge for a preservationist to argue in favour of
restoration of certain biotic variants, without leaving the door open
also for reshaping, for example by the use of modern biotechnology.

The aim of this research-project is to attack these two families of
issues, both connected to the justification of common ideas regarding
the importance of preserving various parts of nature. In one part
(carried out by christian menthe), the project will be aimed at mapping
out moral intuitions regarding the moral responsibility of the taking of
risks, in order to use these for developing a normative theory of the
morality of risk-taking which can be used to underpin a more specific
version of the precautionary principle. The other part of the project is
instead aimed at systematically reviewing various proposals (and new
home-madeas to how to distinguish between that (i.e. nature) which
should typically be preserved according to preservationists and that
which does not need to be so preserved, and to resist the conclusion
that reshaping of nature might be a better idea from the point of view
of typically preservationist values than actual preservation. The focus
here will be on ideas ascribing a value in itself to nature or certain
natural systems.

Bibliography list.

1. Charles Birch and John B. Cobb, Jr., HYPERLINK
“http://www.cep.unt.edu/eebooks.html” \l “Liberation” The Liberation of
Life: From the Cell to the Community (Denton, Tx.:
Environmental Ethics Books, 1990), 357 pages.

2. Yrjo Sepanmaa, HYPERLINK “http://www.cep.unt.edu/eebooks.html” \l
“Beauty” The Beauty of Environment: A General Model for Environmental
Aesthetics , 2d ed. (Denton, Tx.: Environmental Ethics Books, 1993), xv,
191 pages.

3. John B. Cobb, Jr., HYPERLINK “http://www.cep.unt.edu/eebooks.html”
\l “Too Late” Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology , rev. ed. (Denton,
Tx.: Environmental Ethics Books, 1995), 112 pages.

4. Eugene C. Hargrove, HYPERLINK “http://www.cep.unt.edu/eebooks.html”
\l “found” Foundations of Environmental Ethics (reprint ed., Denton,
Tex.: Environmental Ethics Books, 1996), x, 229 pages.

5. Robin Attfield, The Ethics of Environmental Concern (Denton, Tx.:
Environmental Ethics Books, 1983), 237 pages.

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