Refounding Environmental Ethics
Pragmatism, Principle, and Practice
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Temple University Press
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The seeds of many of the arguments that appear in the following pages were planted some years ago when I was a graduate student in what is now the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources (RSENR) at the University of Vermont (UVM). While they should not be held responsible for any of the book’s weaknesses, and I am sure they do not agree...
1. Foundations Old and New
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On many, if not most, academic measures, the fi eld of environmental ethics can be considered a great success. Today, courses in environmental ethics and philosophy are offered in the majority of college and university curricula; in many places, these are taught outside philosophy departments (e.g., in environmental studies programs; schools of public policy, forestry, and natural...
2. Democracy and Environmental Ethics: A Justification
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In Chapter 1, I describe the rise and development of academic environmental ethics in the 1970s and 1980s as a quest for a radically new environmental worldview and value framework that would be unequivocally nonanthropocentric, recognizing the intrinsic value of natural entities and processes and establishing direct duties to promote the good or interests of nature. The...
3. The Public and Its Environmental Problems
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Although environmental ethics has (as I mention in Chapter 1) achieved significant academic success—at least, if we judge this by the number of courses offered, monographs published, and journals established—its standing within the discipline of philosophy has always been somewhat tenuous. Indeed, J. Baird Callicott once wrote that environmental philosophy was “something...
4. Intrinsic Value for Pragmatists
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One summer, when I was about ten years old, I intentionally and maliciously killed a couple of garter snakes. Growing up in a rural area of New York State, I often encountered them while playing in my backyard, particularly near a rock wall at the edge of my mother’s tomato garden. The rocks were long, thin, and loosely stacked—the perfect place for the snakes to bide their time,...
5. Natural Piety, Environmental Ethics, and Sustainability
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In Chapter 4, I discuss how a pragmatic view of intrinsic or noninstrumental environmental value may be pursued within a situation-based or contextual framework, one that draws from John Dewey’s understanding of ethical inquiry and problem solving. The discussion there is largely methodological— that is, it focuses on the process rather than the content of environmental...
6. Animal Rights and Environmental Ethics: A Pragmatic Reconciliation
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On Arrowhead Mountain Lake, in northwestern Vermont, a breeding pair of mute swans established itself in 1993. The species, which evolved elsewhere (primarily in Europe and Asia), arrived in the United States around 1920, when several birds escaped from a private estate overseas. Not surprisingly, the swans are remarkably beautiful creatures, with their white plumage and...
7. Pluralism, Contextualism, and Natural Resource Management: Getting Empirical in Environmental Ethics
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Given the public mission of environmental ethics—that is, to make compelling normative arguments justifying sound environmental policy and management decisions—it is surprising that the field has been so methodologically conservative over the years. One would think that this pragmatic charge would have spurred the development of a more interdisciplinary style of...
8. A Practical Ethics for Ecologists and Biodiversity Managers
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The previous chapter shows that environmental ethics has often neglected empirical methods of inquiry, featuring few projects that connect, in an effective way, the core methodologies of the humanities and the social sciences. This posture, as well as the ideological tendencies of much environmental ethics described in the fi rst part of this book, has kept the field from reaching...
9. Conservation after Preservation
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In December 2007, a couple in northern California were convicted of violating the “Solar Shade Control Act,” a little-known 1978 state law, because their trees were shading a neighbor’s rooftop solar panels. Although the offending flora were planted several years before the photovoltaic panels were installed, the judge in the case ordered the owners to ensure that no more than 10 percent...
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Page Count: 214
Publication Year: 2011