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Environmental Ethics. Definitions Moral Agents Those who have the freedom and rational capacity to be responsible for choices Those capable of moral reflection.

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Presentation on theme: "Environmental Ethics. Definitions Moral Agents Those who have the freedom and rational capacity to be responsible for choices Those capable of moral reflection."— Presentation transcript:

1 Environmental Ethics

2 Definitions Moral Agents Those who have the freedom and rational capacity to be responsible for choices Those capable of moral reflection and decision. Example: adult humans of sound mind Infants and mentally infirm adults are NOT moral agents

3 Definitions Moral Standing: If you have moral standing: Your continued existence or welfare is valuable in itself (intrinsic value) Your interests and well-being must be weighed when deciding what is permissible to do. Example: humans of all kinds, babies, children, adults, old people, etc. Different races, different cultures

4 Definitions Moral Duties That which is owed by moral agents to those with moral standing. Example: It is wrong to kill our children because we have a moral duty toward them

5 Applying this to the environment Who or what has moral standing, and why? ◦ Does the environment have moral standing? ◦ Look at criteria for moral standing What moral duty do we (moral agents) have toward those with moral standing? ◦ Different ethical positions suggest different moral duties.

6 What has Moral Standing? Being human? ◦ Humans have a soul ◦ Humans are moral agents  and are responsible for knowing right from wrong ◦ Humans are intelligent ◦ Humans have personhood  and self-consciousness ◦ Humans have language

7 What has Moral Standing? Sentience? - Animals have sentience Therefore moral standing is extended to animals

8 What has Moral Standing? Being alive? Therefore extend moral standing to animals and plants: all living things.

9 What has Moral Standing? Being part of nature? Therefore we extend moral standing to: the earth Ecosystems rocks rivers plants and animals the entire natural world

10 Ethical Positions Biocentric Individualism: Life-centered morality All living beings have intrinsic value and moral standing. Humans are not superior to other life forms nor privileged, and must respect the inherent worth of every organism Humans should minimise harm and interference with nature: eat vegetarian since less land needs to be cultivated.

11 Ethical Positions Eco- Holism: ecosystem centered morality (Gaia) Everything on earth is interconnected and so has moral standing or intrinsic value. Individuals must be concerned about the whole community of life/nature, Humans should strive to preserve ecological balance and stability.

12 Other Ideas Deep Ecology / Deep Green Ecology Humans are deeply connected with nature. If humans identify with nature, then taking care of the natural world will become part of taking care of one's self.

13 Deep Ecology – Deep green Life has value in itself independent of its usefulness to humans. The impact of humans on the world is excessive – we are only one species among many. We should ‘touch the earth lightly.’ Deep green – respect but not reverence for the environment.

14 Sitting Bull “Behold, my brothers, the spring has come; the earth has received the embraces of the sun and we shall soon see the results of that love! Every seed has awakened and so has all animal life. It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being and we therefore yield to our neighbors, even our animal neighbors, the same right as ourselves, to inhabit this land…”

15 Conservation Ethics Shallow Ecology This is a means to an end – it is beneficial to humans. It improves our quality of life. Light Green Ecology – it still aims to preserve the environment.

16 Religious Approaches Creation has value “God saw that it was good…” We are given dominion over all creatures …what does this mean?

17 Religious Approaches Dominion Humans morally important. More important than the world Criticised by Peter Singer as anthropocentric.

18 Religious Approaches St Francis of Assisi God communicates with us through the natural world. The environment is inherently good, so all creatures have the ability to worship God, all are part of the same creation, and all have the same intrinsic value.

19 Religious Approaches Stewardship The world belongs to God, and we are merely caretakers. Humans are co-creators with God and need to use and transform the world with care. The Fall made us poor stewards and we need to make up for past mistakes.

20 Religious Approaches The Rapture and the End Time Concern for the environment is irrelevant -The destruction of the environment is to be welcomed as it is a sign of the end time and the Second Coming of Christ. -Why care about climate change if you and those closest to you will be rescued in the Rapture?

21 And finally…. Bioregionalism Lead a simple life with local production of food and other products by people that you know. Increases environmental awareness and caring. Decreases exploitation of the environment and people.


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