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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.

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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."— 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: –Something you determine should be treated morally –Example: humans of all kinds Babies, children, adults, old people, etc. Women, different races, different cultures

4 Definitions Moral Duties –Morals 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 Philosophical Issue Who or what has moral standing, and why? –Does the environment have moral standing? –Must 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. Yosemite National Park

6 Ideas on Criteria for Moral Standing Membership in the species Homo sapiens – 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 Ideas on Criteria for Moral Standing Sentience, the ability to feel pain –Therefore extend moral standing to animals

8 Ideas on Criteria for Moral Standing Being alive –Therefore extend moral standing to animals and plants: –All living things.

9 Ideas on Criteria for Moral Standing Being part of nature –Therefore extend moral standing to the earth ecosystems rocks rivers plants animals the entire natural world

10 Ethical Positions Anthropocentrism: Human centered morality –Only humans have intrinsic value and moral standing. –The rest of the natural world has instrumental value (use to humans).

11 Anthropocentrism –We can best protect nature by looking out for human needs. Ex: Ducks Unlimited preserves wetlands Ex: Saving the rainforests will provide O 2 and medicines for humans.

12 Genesis: God commands humans to "fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing...” –After the great flood God says to Noah: the animals will dread and fear you, and I will give you dominion over "everything that creeps on the ground, and over all the fish of the sea."

13 Ethical Positions Sentio-centrism: –All and only sentient beings (animals that feel pain) have intrinsic value and moral standing. –The rest of the natural world has instrumental value. –Both humans and sentient animals have rights and/or interests that must be considered

14 Ethical Positions Biocentric Individualism: Life-centered morality –All and only living beings, specifically individual organisms (not species or ecosystems) 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 minimize harm and interference with nature: eat vegetarian since less land needs to be cultivated.

15 Ethical Positions Eco-centric Holism: ecosystem centered morality Non-living things, species, and natural processes have moral standing or intrinsic value and are deserving of respect. Individuals must be concerned about the whole community of life/nature, Humans should strive to preserve ecological balance and stability.

16 Deep 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.

17 Sitting Bull, 1877 “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…

18 Sitting Bull, 1877 “Yet hear me, my people, we have now to deal with another race - small and feeble when our fathers first met them, but now great and overbearing. Strangely enough they have a mind to till the soil and the love of possessions is a disease with them....

19 Sitting Bull, 1877 “They claim this mother of ours, the earth, for their own, and fence their neighbors away; they deface her with their buildings and their refuse. They threaten to take [the land] away from us. My brothers, shall we submit, or shall we say to them: "First kill me before you take possession of my Fatherland."

20 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.

21 Ecoterrorism The term "eco-terrorism" (or ecoterrorism) refers to two different kinds of terrorism: –(1) terrorism intended to hinder activities considered harmful to the environment, and –(2) terrorism intended to damage the environment of an enemy.

22 1970s, 80s, & 90s Ecoterrorism –Began after first Earth Day –"Arizona Phantom" tore up railroad tracks and disabled equipment in an attempt to stop construction of a coal mine in the desert highlands. –"Eco-Raiders" burned billboards, disabled bulldozers, and vandalized development projects in and around Tucson, causing over half a million dollars of damage - a group of college students.

23 1970s, 80s, & 90s Ecoterrorism Illinois, a man going by the name of "The Fox" plugged drainage pipes, capped factory smokestacks, and dumped industrial waste from a U.S. Steel plant into the office of the company's chief executive. "Bolt Weevils" disabled 14 electrical towers that were part of a high-voltage power line being built across the prairie in Minnesota.

24 Recent Ecoterrorism FBI Investigating Arson; Ecoterrorism Possible Motive Destroys 41 Homes, Amounting To $10 Million In Damage, Indian Head, MD - Dec. 7, 2004 The Sierra Club called the development "quintessential sprawl" in its Fall 2000 sprawl report, noting it is far from existing infrastructure and "threatens a fragile wetland and important historical sites near the Chesapeake Bay."

25 Recent Ecoterrorism Prosecution finishes in ecoterrorism trial, Tuesday, November 16, 2004 –LOS ANGELES -- The prosecution rested Tuesday in the ecoterrorism trial of Caltech graduate student Billy Cottrell, closing with DNA evidence linking Cottrell to a headband found at the arson scene. –Several hairs were found on the headband, which was discovered at the Clippinger Hummer dealership soon after the $2.5 million arson fire there on Aug. 22, –Earthfirst!, ELF, or ALF?


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