What you will be learning in the following chapters. •(1) Introduction: The Early Development of Environmental Ethics •(2) The Challenge of Environmental Ethics -Animals -Organisms -Species •(3) Wilderness, the Built Environment, Poverty and Politics •(4) Feminism and the Environment (1) Introduction: The Early Development of Environmental Ethics: If putting out natural non man made fires, culling animals and or killing off some individual members of overpopulated indigenous species was necessary for the protection and the integrity of a certain ecosystem.
Would these actions be legal morally permissible or even required? Is it morally acceptable for farmers in non-industrial countries to practice “slash and burn” techniques to clear areas for agriculture? Beginning in the early 1960s, the questioning and rethinking of the relationship of human beings with the natural environment reflected an already widespread perception in that the late twentieth century faced a “population time bomb” and a serious series of environmental crisis.
Historian Lynn White Jr, wrote an article called “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis”, on a much-cited essay published in 1967 on the historical roots of the environmental crisis argues 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. White’s thesis is widely discussed in theology, history, and has been subject to some sociological testing as well as being regularly discussed by philosophers.
According to White, the Christian idea that was thought to be that all humans are created in the image of God, who is radically separate from nature, also by extension radically, separates humans themselves from nature. (2) The Challenge of Environmental Ethics: the call for a “basic change of values” in connection to the environment reflected a need for the development of environmental ethics as a new sub-discipline of philosophy. This meant (a call that could be interpreted in terms of either instrumental or intrinsic values). It has always been said that humans have been the number one cause of pollution and the destruction of earth.
We as humans have consumed a huge portion of the planets resources. Is this correct human behavior? Maybe we as humans have grown into an uncontrollable population. This is a question being investigated by environmental ethics. •Animals- Whatever matters to animals, matters morally. These nonhumans do not share with humans the capacity to reason or talk, but they do share the capacity to suffer, and human ethics can be extended to our animal cousins. There are ample scientific grounds that animals enjoy pleasures and suffer pains; and ethically no grounds to value these in humans and not in animals.
Yet, to treat wild animals with the compassion learned in culture does not appreciate their wildness. Compassionate respect for life in its suffering is only part of the analysis. Sometimes in an environmental ethic we need to follow nature, and not so much to treat animals humanely. Part of the ethic may also involve treating them naturally. If only human beings have moral standing, then it follows that if I come across a bear while out camping and shoot it dead on a whim, I do no wrong to that bear.
Of course, an anthropocentric ethic might claim that I do some wrong by shooting the bear dead – perhaps shooting bears is not the action of a virtuous individual, or perhaps I am depleting a source of beauty for most other humans but because anthropocentrism states that only humans have moral standing, then I can do no wrong to the bear itself. However, many of us have the intuition that this claim is wrong. Many of us feel that it is possible to do wrong to animals, whether that be by shooting innocent bears or by torturing cats. Of course, a feeling or intuition does not get us very far in proving that animals have moral standing •Organisms- An organism is a spontaneous, self-maintaining system, sustaining and reproducing itself. In this sense, its genome is a set of conservation molecules, a normative set; it distinguishes between what is and what ought to be. The organism is not a moral system, but the organism is an axiological, evaluative system. So the oak grows, reproduces, repairs its wounds, and resists death. Value is present in this achievement. Every organism has a good-of-its-kind; it defends its own kind as a good kind.
There seems no reason why such normative organisms are not morally significant. •Species- A species exists; a species ought to exist. In an evolutionary ecosystem, it is not mere individuality that counts, but the species is also significant because it is a dynamic life form maintained over time. The species line is the vital living system, the whole, of which individual organisms are the essential parts. The dignity resides in the dynamic form; the individual inherits this, exemplifies it, and passes it on. If at the specific level these processes are just as evident or even more so, what prevents duties arising at that level?
The appropriate survival unit is the appropriate level of moral concern. (3) Wilderness, the Built Environment, Poverty and Politics: The variety of positions in environmental ethics has developed widely over the last thirty years, mostly focusing on wilderness concerns and ways on how to conserve it. The importance of the environment is huge for preserving human life. The importance of its preservation has been overlooked by another important problem, life styles in which woodland mountaineering can be indulged demand a standard of living that is far beyond most of the human’s dreams.
Now there is a new range of moral problems that have opened up. This includes environmental costs for tourist access to wilderness areas. Humans can be like a cancer to the environment in well-populated areas. (4) Feminism and the Environment: feminist issue is any that contributes in some way to understanding the oppression of women. Sheila Collins (1974) argued that male-dominated culture is supported by four basic interlocking pillars: class exploitation, racism, sexism, and ecological destruction.
Collins emphasized the importance of feminism to the environmental movement with various liberation movements during her time. This represented racial challenges for environmental thinking. But because of the many disagreements among the feminist’s theories, this label has fallen from use. One of the areas where ecofeminism is found lacking in the traditional paradigm of social movements is the area of action. The common view is that social movements engage in protest and direct action; however, ecofeminism calls for consciousness raising, healing, and a communion with nature. There is little direct action.
Some call for concern and to be involved in crucial issues. Others call for intellectual work to form a holistic conception of ecofeminism. Furthermore, there is no group of ecofeminists, no declared leader, and no vague form of organized activity other than a few intellectual conferences and books. A few organizations have included the word “ecofeminism” in their title, such as Ecofeminists for Animal Rights, but they are not a subgroup of the larger Ecofeminists. In addition, most groups that can be identified as ecofeminist in nature do not identify themselves as ecofeminist.