A role of environmental ethics in modern society

Kyiv national university of culture and arts

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

                                      Executed by: student TBA-40 group
                                               Faculty:    direction     and
                                                        Radchenko Nataliya

                                              Controlled by: Karpenko
                                 Valeriy I.


          A Role of the Environmental Ethics in the modern society.
      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 River.
      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 organized by William Blackstone at the University of  Georgia
in 1972. The proceedings were  published  as  Philosophy  and  Environmental
Crisis in 1974,  which  included  Pete  Gunter`s  first  paper  on  the  Big
Thicket. In 1972 a book called “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,  Max
      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  Eugene  C.  Hargrove  founded
the journal 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. Animal rights has since  developed  as  a
separate field with a separate journal, first,  Ethics  and  Animals,  which
was later superseded by Between the Species.
      Cobb published another book in the early 1980s, 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 Eugene  C.
Hargrove`s Foundations of Environmental Ethics. 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, The Trumpeter. In 1989,  Earth  Ethics
Quarterly was begun as a more popular environmental publication.  Originally
intended primarily as a reprint publication, now as  a  publication  of  the
Centre for  Respect  for  Life  and  Environment,  it  is  focused  more  on
international sustainable development.
      The 1990s began with the establishment of  the  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, 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.  Callicott,  who  follows  Aldo  Leopold  closely,  is   a
subjective  nonanthropocentric  intrinsic  value   theorist.   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 analyzed 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
generalizations,  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
      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 actualization 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 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  environmental  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-made  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., The Liberation of Life: From the
                Cell to the Community (Denton, Tex.: Environmental Ethics
   Books, 1990),  357 pages.

   2. Yrjo Sepanmaa, The Beauty of Environment: A General Model for
   Environmental Aesthetics, 2d ed. (Denton, Tex.: Environmental Ethics
   Books, 1993), 191 pages.

   3. John B. Cobb, Jr., Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology, rev. ed.
   (Denton, Tex.: Environmental Ethics Books, 1995), 112 pages.

   4. Eugene C. Hargrove, Foundations of Environmental Ethics (reprint ed.,
   Denton, Tex.: Environmental Ethics Books, 1996), 229 pages.
   5. Robin Attfield, The Ethics of  Environmental  Concern  (Denton,  Tex.:
       Environmental Ethics Books, 1983), 237 pages.