The Value of Wilderness

Godfrey-Smith, William
Environmental Ethics Vol. 1/4 (1979), pages 309-19

In this paper I explore various grounds on which wilderness can be regarded as something which we should value, and I draw attention to the problems of resolving conflict which are generated by these diverse grounds. I conclude that our attitudes toward nature are partially determined by a background of metaphysical assumptions which derive in particular from the philosophy of Descartes. These metaphysical preconceptions lead to the misconception that various alternative views about the natural environment are mystical or occult. Thus, an alternative non-Cartesian mode of conception involving holistic or systemic modes of thought is required in order to develop a satisfactory basis for our attitude toward the natural world.

Moving beyond Anthropocentrism: Environmental Ethics, Development, and the Amazon

Katz, Eric; Oechsli, Lauren
Environmental Ethics Vol. 15/1 (1993), pages 49-59

We argue for the rejection of an anthropocentric and instrumental system of normative ethics. Moral arguments for the preservation of the environment cannot be based on the promotion of human interests or goods. The failure of anthropocentric arguments is exemplified by the dilemma of Third World development policy, e.g., the controversy over the preservation of the Amazon rain forest. Considerations of both utility and justice preclude a solution to the problems of Third World development from the restrictive framework of anthropocentric interests. A moral theory in which nature is considered to be morally considerable in itself can justify environmental policies of preservation, even in the Third World. Thus, a nonanthropocentric framework for environmental ethics should be adopted as the basis for policy decisions.