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UI 429 Environmental Ethics H. Hamner Hill, Philosophy and Religion Introduce Myself & the Course Overview of Environmental.

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Presentation on theme: "UI 429 Environmental Ethics H. Hamner Hill, Philosophy and Religion Introduce Myself & the Course Overview of Environmental."— Presentation transcript:

1 UI 429 Environmental Ethics H. Hamner Hill, Philosophy and Religion Introduce Myself & the Course Overview of Environmental Ethics and Ethical Theory

2 Topics of Discussion Website: Nature and details of the course Why we need a course in environmental ethics Overview of Ethical Theory

3 Nature of the Course This is a lecture/Discussion course. The emphasis is on discussion. That means that the students will bear most of the responsibility for keeping the class moving. Students MUST be prepared for class.

4 Cell Phones Turn it off. We are in class, your call can wait. Do not text message during class. Cell phones and class do not mix. Read this column from the New York Times. this columnthis column

5 Expectations of Students Students will be expected to: –1) Attend class regularly. –2) Participate in class discussions. –3) Complete five (5) written case study reports. –4) Prepare an individual, written research project. –5) Complete a mid-term essay examination. –6) Prepare and present a book summary on a book about contemporary issues in environmental ethics. –7) Complete a comprehensive final examination. –8) Thou shalt not plagiarize!

6 Basis for Student Grades Completion of all assignments is a necessary condition for receiving a passing grade in the course. Those students entitled to a passing grade will be evaluated as follows. 20% will be based on the case studies. 40% will be based on the research project, 10% will be based on the mid-term examination. 10% will be based on the book summary. 20% will be based on the final examination.

7 Texts VanDeVeer and Pierce, The Environmental Ethics & Policy Handbook, 3 rd ed, Wadworth, 2012.

8 Why Do We Need a Course in Environmental Ethics? Check the headlines Hydraulic fracturing Monsanto and PCB’s Corps of Engineers and the Missouri River EPA standards for arsenic in drinking water Global Climate Change

9 Why Do We Need a Course in Environmental Ethics? Technological Change Plus the Technological Imperative –If we can do something, then we should do it Human impact on the environment Changing Society –Views of the role of people in our environment –Changing values (religious, social) –Increased wealth Formal Rules (EPA, RCRA, CERCLA)

10 Humanity’s Top Ten Problems for next 50 years 1. Population & Consumption 2. Energy 3. Water 4. Food 5. Waste & Pollution 6. Poverty 7. War 8. Emerging Diseases 9. Education 10. Democracy 2004 6.5 Billion People 2013 >7Billion People 2050 ~ 10 Billion People

11 Overview of Ethical Theory What is a Theory? Scientific theories: –Tool for describing our experience –Tool for predicting future experience –Tool for organizing our experiences

12 Good Theories Must: Fit (generally) our experience Be subject to test and refutation

13 Are Ethical Theories Really Theories? What are the data in ethics? –Considered moral judgments Can ethical theories be tested? –Test cases and moral senses

14 Components of an Ethical Theory Theory of Value (Axiology) –Monistic (there is only one thing of value) –Pluralistic (several things have value)

15 Components of an Ethical Theory Theory of Value (Axiology) Theory of Obligation (Deontology)

16 Two Major Types of Theories of Obligation Relativist Non-relativist (absolutist)

17 Relativist Theories There are no universal or objective standards of right and wrong, there are no universal duties. “Right” is a concept that makes sense only in a context; what is right is relative to a context.

18 Non-Relativist Theories There are objective, universal standards of conduct that apply to all people in all settings.

19 Major Non-Relativist Theories of Obligation Consequentialist Duty Based Rights Based Natural Law Virtue Ethics

20 Consequentialist Theories The rightness or wrongness of an act is determined through reference to the consequences of the act. Right actions maximize value.

21 Duty Based Theories of Obligation Human reason allows us to discover universal duties or obligations that ew have to one another.

22 Rights Based Theories of Obligation People come equipped with a basic set of rights, respect for which is a defining feature of moral action. Right actions respect basic rights.

23 Natural Law The Divine law sets the standard for all human laws. Humans are obligated to act in accordance with the Divine law, and all human laws should embody it.

24 Virtue Ethics Act in ways that promote the development of and display virtuous character traits

25 Major Ethical Principles NonmaleficenceBeneficenceUtility Distributive Justice Autonomy Precautionary Principle

26 Nonmaleficence n Act in ways that do not cause harm or needless suffering to others. This principle is a formalization of the "above all else, do no harm" edict.

27 Beneficence Act in ways that promote the welfare of other people. This principle requires affirmative steps be taken to advance the welfare of others.

28 Utility Act in ways that maximize good and minimize harm. Right actions maximize some measurable thing of value.

29 Distributive Justice Act in way that promote a just* distribution of social goods. This theory needs an independent theory of just distribution to be workable.

30 Autonomy Act in ways that allow rational individuals to govern their own lives. Treat persons with respect and dignity and allow them to make decisions for themselves with regard to their own lives.

31 The Precautionary Principle Take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize climate change and mitigate its adverse effects. Rather than await certainty, regulators should act in anticipation of any potential environmental harm in order to prevent it.

32 Roles, Responsibilities, Values and Conflicts

33 Social Roles and Institutions Established and continuing parts in a social enterprise Characterized by distinctive activity Special contexts of evaluation and appropriateness

34 Contexts of Evaluation and Appropriateness Prescribed means (constraints on reasons) Constraints on actions Prescribed ends

35 The Ecology of Social Roles A role is shaped by the demands of complementary roles surrounding it, and roles change in response to changes in other interacting roles

36 Responsibilities and Values are Defined by Roles

37 Role Responsibilities Expectations that are placed on an agent in virtue of that agent’s acting in a certain role capacity Included and excluded reasons--agents acting in roles are expected to use, or exclude certain types of reasons

38 People Fill Several Roles Simultaneously The fundamental values and responsibilities of different roles may come into open conflict Inconsistent social messages about values

39 Three conflicting roles ConsumerCitizenNeighbor

40 Values Vary by Role What is valued in one role may not be valued in, or may be harmful to, another

41 Inconsistent Social Messages About Values Success: wealth and avarice Work: virtue or punishment Societal Values: liberty, justice, and equality Land values: stewardship or dominion Confusion between morality and legality

42 M.L. King on Morality and Legality Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. We cannot change the heart, but we may restrain the heartless.

43 Law is External Morality is Internal Law is about what we MUST Do Morality is about what we STRIVE to Do and Be

44 Ethics is about doing more than you are required to do, but less than you are allowed to do Michael Josephson Michael Josephson

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