Environmental Ethics (Exam #1)

clarification of concepts ie. free will, meaning etc.
environmental ethics includes...
biodiversity, environmentalism, exotics species, intrinsic value, nature, restoration, wilderness & more
env. ethics (in relation to)
ethics, epistemology, physics
metaphysics, normative ethics
Deduction (type of arg)
truth preserving, truth of premises guarantees truth of conclusion---VALIDITY in arguments
1. All men are mortal
2. Socrates is a man
3. Socrates is mortal
validity and all premises are true
Two broad kinds of environmentalism
anthropocentrism and biocentrism
humans are the source of all value, nonhuman entities are only valuable to the extent humans find them valuable- Gifford Pinchot
living nonhuman entities have value independent of humans, or any other kind of valuer-John Muir
does not allow nonliving things like mountains and rivers to have value independent of living things (nonanthropocentrism allows this)

Singer is not this
experiences of pleasure and pain are the sources of all value. Entities that are capable of of such experiences (can) have value--allows chimps, slugs and mice have value independent of humans

singer is this, says relevant group is sentient beings but it alienates plants
only individual living entities, you, me or Frank, have value
some individuals (like species, communities, ecosystems) have value independent of individuals such as humans, sentient organisms, and living entities
Two broad kinds of value
instrumental value and intrinsic value
instrumental value
value an entity has for a valuer such as a human or any organisms cognitively capable of having desires and goals toward which entities can contribute
intrinsic value
value an entity has "in itself". Alternatively, intrinsic value is value an entity has independent of all valuers
Bryan Norton and Sand Dollars
-finds little girls extraction of dollars unethical, unable to express reason for this judgement either in 1) economic terms or 2) of the rights of the dollars
Answer to Sand Dollars
best rationale for protection appeals to the knowledge that can be gained from the sand dollars, especially in their role as part of the larger beach, coastal, etc ecosystem. Curiosity about then "respects them as living things with stories to tell"
environmentalism dilemma
strongly believing that some action is wrong, but being unable to explain cogently why
normative ethics
the study of what you should do and the kind of person you should be
act such as the consequences of your action maximizes pleasure and minimizes pain
Peter Singer
John Stewart Mills
Jeremy Bentham
act according to your duty
Immanual Kant
categorical imperitave
act such that maxim of one's actions could become a universal law--test this for duty only for Kant to see if ethical
virtue ethics
dont focus on actions rather you should be cultivating yourself to be a virtulous person ie. one who is brave, caring, compassionate, empathetic, friendly, generous, has integrity, just, loving, loyal, magnanimous, truthful etc
similar to racism and sexism the view that membership in one species alone is grounds for ethical superiority over members of other species
peter singer
founder of the animal liberation movement, director of bioethics institute at princeton, utalitarian, probably the most famous living philosopher
ethical equality
not equivalent actual equality of individuals, groups, factual equality
equality of consideration
the interests of every being affected by an action are to be taken into account and given the same weight as the like interests of any other being--does not mean equality of treatment
Aldo Leopold
Sand County Almanac
developed land ethic
Leopold's Land Ethic
A convergence of ethical and ecological outlooks: "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise"
Leopolds arugments for Land Ethic
rivet argument
1)ecosystems,and perhaps entire biosphere, are similar to airplanes
2)although removing one rivet wont cause it to crash, continued removal will
3)we cant be certain of what precise rivet will cause the plane to crash
Conclusion: we should preserve every rivet
weakness of rivet argument
arugment by analogy, unclear how to assess it, p3 should be rejected bc some extinction of a species will not precipitate in the collapse of entire ecosystem (devils pup fish), only applies to keystone species
keystone species
a species that has a disproportionate affect on its ecosystem relative to it's abundance--extinction would cause dramatic ecosystem changes
Land Ethic argument 2
man made changes are of a "different order than natural evolutionary changes" and simplify ecosystems. this in turn makes them less stable
-after such man made distrubances, the land recovers but at a reduced level of complexity which in turn supports a reduced carrying capacity
problem: naturalistic fallacy
naturalistic fallacy
defining ethical concepts such as good or right in terms of natural properties X will inevitably fail if they do not forestall the legitimacy of the question "Why is X good or right?"
fact-value gap
facts are value neutral, they do not entail anything about values. Similarly, value claims entail no factual claims.
Exception: ought implies can, and hence cannot implies no ought
Mark Sagoff
animal contra environmental ethics
two interpretations of the animal ethics movement
1) cruelty to animals is unethical and horrendous
2)humans are obliged to prevent and relieve animal suffering, however it is caused
focal points of dissonance between Leopold and Singer
1)Leos indifference abt suffering of domestic and wild animals
2) Singers indifference about the loss of species
3) Leopolds advocacy and enthusiasm for hunting
Sagoff's challenge
"The animal liberationist-if the reduction of animal misery is taken seriously as a goal--must be willing, in principle, to sacrifice the authenticity, integrity and complexity of ecosystems to protect the rights or guard the lives of animals
Paul Taylor
respect for nature
1. good of a living thing- to say that a living thing can be benefited or harmed is to recognize that it has a good (doesn't have to have interests)
2. inherent worth of an entity
Four components to respect for nature
1. humans are members of the earths biota in the same way as other living things
2. the earths ecosystems are a complex web of interconnected elements with the biological functioning of each being dependent of those of others
3.each living organism pursues its own good
4. humans are neither superior in merit or in inherent worth and thinking so is merely irrational bias
arrguments against the ethical superiority of humans
1) humans could be claimed ethically superior on merit or inherent worth
2) judgements of moral merit can only be made of entities capable of moral agency. Thus, claims of human ethical superiority over the other species that are incapable of moral agency based on merit are indefensible
3) judgement of ethical superiority based on inherent worth are speciesist and reflect the same rationale as was used to justify racism, secxism, classism etc. Such judgements are thus indefensible
C-humans are not ethically superior and, in general, all species are of equal ethical value
fallacy of false dilemma
P1 should be rejected because there is some other basis besides merit or inherent worth for claiming humans are ethically superior
biocentric individualism (Varner)
1) an entity has moral standing if and only if it has interests
2) an entity has interests if and only if the fulfilment of its needs and or desires creates intrinsic value
3) an entity has intrinsic value iff its existence makes the world a better place independently of its value to anything else or any other entities awareness of it
psycho-biological theory of individual welfare
X is in an individual A's interests just in case:
1. A actually desires X or,
2. A would desire X if A were sufficiently informed and impartial across phases of his or her life or
3. X serves some biologically based need for A
mental state theory of individual welfare
x is in individual A's interest just in case
-A actually desires X; or
-A would desire X if A were sufficiently informed and impartial across phases of his or her life; and,
-What is in A's best interests is defined in terms of what A would desire if A were sufficiently informed and impartial across phases of his or her life

critique: not all people desire good, plants can't have desires (against biocentrism), or not enough data to say something is good or bad
Is there anything wrong with ecological restoration?
Katz- Yes
5 args
1. duplicitous
2. Arrogance
3. Artifact
4. domination
5. replacement
Katz overriding metaphysical assumption: humanity and nature are distinct categories of reality he is a humanity/nature dualist
if we reject this assumption, most (in fact all) KAtz objections to restoration can be rejected
Ecological resoration: duplicitous and arrogance
these are arguments against particular motivations for restoration, not restoration itself
whats wrong with duplicity?
Ecological restoration: artifact
given the metaphysical assumption "we no longer care that what is created may or may not be an artifact"
ecological restoration: replacement
given the metaphysical assumption, such replacement is impossible, so the first part 5 is not satisfied
ecological restoration: domination
1)attempted resoration may be required to "free" an ecosystem from the naturally unrepairable effects of past human domination
-effects of exotic species
2) all such attempts at restoration are domination is counterintuitive
3) domination implies complete freedom to manipulate but this is not the case for restoration (as opposed to ecological mitigation or construction)
4) Katz claims restoration prevents "self-realization" by nature but given the above this is difficult to accept
What is the correct ethical view of restoration?
Lights Answer: it restores and enhances an ethically valuable relationship with nature
relations between people and things that are ethically obligatory
2) relations that are ethically valuable but not obligatory
Calicott: ecological restoration and the wilderness
Ecological restoration: the received paradigm
Wilderness myth
pre european settlement, the americas were free from significant human influence
Wilderness myth debunked
1) native precolonial population was underestimated (given decimation by european disease)
2) homo sapiens likely caused mass extinction of fauna and significantly altered the land with fire and agriculture
climax ecology myth
areas have "climax" communities determined by factors such as precipitation and temperature; these communities are like giant "superorganisms"; human influence is an artificial disturbance to the natural successional trajectory of an area
climax ecology myth
1) the superorganism idea has been discredited
2) succession towards a predetermined climax community has been abandoned for an individualistic "flux of nature" conception
3) the human-artificial/ non-human natural dichotomy has been abandoned
naturalized species
a well established non native that is also a well behaved citizen of its adopted biotic community
What reference state should ecological restoration restore to?
ecologically relevant disturbance cycles (hurricans, floods, fire) [centuries] ecologically relevant physical barriers (eg. mountain range, river, desert)--sufficient time frame because already some type of reset in ecosystems after this happen
arguments for preserving wilderness (arg 1)
contains natural resources that could be preserved for current or future use
problems w/ arg 1 (preserving wilderness)
1) if wildernesses are places that man has not touched then any extraction of resources from them annihilates their wilderness status
2) even if the preservation is for the future use, at that point the wilderness will cease to be so
3) this is a rationale for natural resource preservation, not resource preservation
preserving wilderness arg 2
like argument 1, but the natural resource is the big game that humans like to hunt
problems 1, 2, 3 still apply
probelm 4: wilderness advocates typically want to ban activities like hunting in wilderness areas
preserving wilderness pt 3
wilderness contains many known medicinal resources, and likely many unknown ones
-above problems apply,
prob 5: in terms of unknown drugs, synthetically produced pharmaceuticals are increasing in frequency and economically more effective for drug companies
prob 6: many wildernesses are very species poor
arugment for preserving wilderness #4
wildernesses provide essential services to humans, clean water, air, carbon storage
problem: wilderness preservation is perhaps sufficient but not necessarily condition for ensuring these servies continue to be provided
arg #7 for preserving wilderness
wilderness should be preserved because people enjoy wilderness and require it to find the isolation from other people they desire
categorical desires
one that answers the question "why is life worth living?"
ground project
nexus of categorical desires---what he has to to do accomplish desires like eating, sleeping
Names and philosophies
Norton- anthropocentrist sand dollars bc of knowledge that can be gained
Leopold- nonanthropocentrist, holist, rivet argument
Russow- anthropocentric, protecting species over individuals
Taylor- biocentrist, having good to have an interest to have value--may be too broad
Sagoff- animal liberation, reductio adum cernum of singers position
Singer- sentientist who think important is based off pleasure and pain
preserving biodiversity and wilderness are not the same thing