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exam notes for phil 2000

17 Pages

Cognitive Science
Course Code
COGS 3750
Rebecca Jubis

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1 Modes of Reasoning – Lecture 17 I – Environmental Ethics • The first moral issue examined in this course was the moral status of animals: what rights do animals have? • Another issue of contemporary moral importance is the issue of the natural environment or ‘ecology’. • It is rather generally conceded that we have some obligations to protect and nurture the natural environment. • Given this general consensus, the fundamental issue in environmental ethics becomes what exactly our moral obligations are concerning the natural environment. 2 II – Environmental Ethics: Two Approaches • Besides the issue of exactly what moral obligations we have towards the natural environment, there is the more preliminary question of from where these obligations derive. • There are two fundamental views or positions regarding from where moral obligations towards the natural environment derive, which divide environmental ethicists into two broad categories: deep ecologists and shallow ecologists. Deep ecology: our moral obligations to protect the natural environment derive primarily from the value of the natural environment itself. Inherent value (also known as ‘intrinsic value’): a value that something S has in and of itself. Instrumental value: a value that something S has by virtue of the fact that it has value for some other thing T. • According to deep ecologists, nature has an inherent value. -It is valuable in of itself, apart from any value it might have for other entities such as human beings. -Even if humans and animals did not exist, the existence and preservation of the planet could still be given a rationale. E.G.: Even if we had another planet to live on, we still shouldn’t destroy the earth. 3 • Deep ecologists tend to hold more extreme positions about the scope of our moral obligations toward the planet. -Since nature has an inherent value, we have very substantial moral obligations to protect and preserve its resources. -We must protect nature at virtually any cost since there is something worthwhile about nature in and of itself. 4 Shallow ecology: the natural environment only has instrumental value. -Nature is valuable only to the extent that it is valuable to some domain of entities, i.e., especially human beings and animals. -Our moral obligations to protect and preserve nature derive from the fact that it has certain basic purposes for us: it enables us to live, breath, eat, enjoy beauty, etc. -If humans and animals didn’t exist, the existence and preservation of the planet could not be given a rationale. E.G.: if we had another planet to live on, we shouldn’t worry about whether or not the earth is destroyed. 5 • Shallow ecologists tend to hold less extreme views about our moral obligations towards the natural environment than deep ecologists. -Our moral obligations to protect and preserve the natural environment are limited: limited to cases in which protecting and preserving the environment provides a significant benefit to humans and other animals. • However, there is a broad range of positions within this spectrum. -Many shallow ecologists claim that we have quite substantial moral obligations to protect and preserve nature. -They advocate policies and actions which might be described as highly ‘environmentalist’c. -It’s just that this is given an instrumentalist justification: such policies and actions will be beneficial to humans and animals. 6 III – Naess on the Environment and Deep Ecology • Arne Naess is a proponent of deep ecology. -The natural environment has an inherent value, one independent of the value it has for humans and other animals. -Our moral obligations towards nature, obligations that should be sanctioned by the law, are rather substantial. • In his article, though, he is interested to lay out, elucidate and defend the deep ecological position rather than delineate its consequences with respect to our moral obligations. • What sorts of general theoretical and intuitive considerations support the position of deep ecology, or what is called the ‘deep ecosophy’ (the philosophy underlying deep ecology)? 7 (1) Value Objectivism: values are objective, real or inherent features of things. -Things can have values independently of the purposes they serve for humans and animals. -Value subjectivism, according to which things can only have value relative to the purposes they serve for humans and animals, is a prejudice of modern 20 -21 Century western society. -It is anthropocentric to think that things can only have values for us. -Most other cultures at most other times were subjectivists and believed that certain things, besides humans and other animals, could have inherent value. 8 (2) Living beings and intrinsic value: all living things (everything existing within nature) have an intrinsic or inherent value. -Any living being has a right to life. -We as
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