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chapter notes

Environmental Science
Course Code
Carl Mitchell

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Chapter 21
- Every action affects the environment, as a result of culture: ensemble of knowledge, beliefs,
values, and learned ways of life shared by a group of people
- World view: perception of the world and his/her place within it
- Tradition, values, religion and spiritual beliefs, political ideology, economics
- Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK): the intimate knowledge of a particular environment
possessed and passed along those who have inhabited an area for many generations
Æ assigned economic value (TEK may be extremely valuable to research)
- Ethics: the study of good and bad, rich and wrong; moral principles or values held by a person or
a society
- Relativists: believe that ethics do and should vary with social context
- Univeralists: some fundamental, objective notions of right and wrong/good and bad across
cultures and situations
- Ethical standards: criteria that help differentiate right from wrong
o Categorical imperative (Kant) golden rule” common to many of the worlds great
religions do not do what you dont want to be done to you
o Utility (John Stuart Mill) utilitarian principle: something is right when it produces the
greatest practical benefits for most people
Intrinsic value: an inherent right to exist
Environmental ethics
- Sustainable development [meet our current needs without compromising the availability of
natural resources or the quality of life for future generations]
- Anthropocentrism: human-centred view of our relationship with the environment
o denies/ignores nonhuman entities rights
o measures the cost and benefits of actions on impact on people
o e.g. human health, economic costs and benefits, esthetic concerns
- Biocentrism: values to actions, entities, or properties on the basis of effects on all living things
o all life has ethical standing
- Ecocentrism: benefit/harm to the integrity of whole ecological systems (biotic and abiotic) and
the relationships among them
o considers well-being of entire species, communities, or ecosystems over the welfare of a
given individual
o preservation of larger systems Æ protects components
o holistic perspective stresses preserving the connections that tie entities together
- environmental ethics as an academic discipline (1970s) environmental impacts (Industrial Rev)
- transcendentalism nature as a direct manifestation of the divine
- preservation ethic: should protect the natural environment in a pristine, unaltered state
o preserve nature for its own sake and for the esthetic, spiritual, symbolic, and
recreational benefit of people
- conservation ethic: humans should put natural resources to use but also that we have a
responsibility to manage them wisely
o promotes the prudent, efficient, and sustainable extraction and use of natural resources
for the benefit of the present and future generations
o provide the greatest good to the greatest number of people for the longest time
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