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An overview of Environmental Ethics

  1. Resources
  2. Guide Questions
  3. Smartboard Notes

Here are some web sites that will enhance your understanding of this week's reading:

Environmental Ethics Overviews:

This Week's Authors:

Clare Palmer:

Richard Sylvan:

Realted Videos



Guide Questions:

The following questions are designed to fine tune your understanding of the reading. The subject matter and answers to these questions form the basis of what you will be required to know for exams.

Objectives for this week: These are the learning objectives you should have mastered after attending the lectures and completing the questions below

  1. identify the main concerns of environmental ethics and the various ways that these issues are addressed from various ethical perspectives
  2. describe consequentialist, deontological and holistic approaches to environmental ethics
  3. describe the Gaia principle advanced by James Lovelock and its connection to simulation-based video games
  4. understand the ethical presuppositions of deep ecology, ecofeminism and social constructivism
  5. describe at least three differences between strong and weak versions of Western versus environmental ethics.
  6. explain the ways in which "species bias" influences ethical and economic assessments and decisions about the environmental impact of a proposed action

An Overview of Environmental Ethics (Clare Palmer)

Guide Questions:

  1. Differentiate between instrumental and non-instrumental value.
  2. Describe anthropogenic versus anthropocentric subjectivism.
  3. What is ethical monism and what does it imply for environmental ethics?
  4. Summarize the main ideas in anthropocentric approaches to ethics.
  5. How is value measured in individualist consequentialist approaches to environmental ethics? Summarize the 4 major objections to this approach.
  6. In what way does the "will-to-live" principle inform individualist deontological approaches to ethics.
  7. Explain what it means for an organism to be a "teleological center of life," and the connection with the claim of inherent worth.
  8. How does the holistic approach to environmental ethics differ from the consequentialist and deontological views?
  9. Briefly describe the Gaia principle advanced by James Lovelock. (This has a cool connection with the early video games like Sim Earth and Sim Civilization, precursors to the Sims series of "virtual world" games. See if you can figure out what the link entails.)
  10. Summarize Ralston's position concerning the way we should ethically evaluate the management of an ecosystem.
  11. In what way is the idea of "wilderness" problematic for developing countries and in framing the relationship between man and nature?
  12. Describe the difficulties with restoration and replacement as solutions to environmental contamination or degradation.
  13. Distinguish between shallow versus deep ecology.
  14. What is the core ethical claim in ecofeminism? How do boundary conditions work in this theory?
  15. Differentiate between strong versus weak "social constructivism" in environmental ethics.

Is there a need for a new, an environmental, ethic? (Richard Sylvan)

Guide Questions:

  1. Describe at least three differences between strong and weak versions of Western environmental ethics.
  2. Explain why the ideas of value and right have to be extended in environmental ethics.
  3. How does "species bias" influence ethical and economic assessments and decisions about the environmental impact of a proposed action?



Smartboard Notes

Smartboard Notes from Week 1 Lecture:




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