Ecocentrism and Ecological Modeling

Steverson, Brian K.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 16/1 (1994), pages 71-88

Typical of ecocentric approaches such as the land ethic and the deep ecology movement is the use of concepts from ecological science to create an “ecoholistic” ontological foundation from which a strong environmental ethic is generated. Crucial to ecocentric theories is the assumption that ecological science has shown that humanity and nonhuman nature are essentially integrated into communal or communal-like arrangements. In this essay, I challenge the adequacy of that claim. I argue that for the most part the claim is false, and that, if it were true, it would overextend the sphere of morally considerable entities to include entities that are implausibly deserving of moral consideration. In either case, the foundation of ecocentrism is significantly weakened.

On Warwick Fox’s Assessment of Deep Ecology

Glasser, Harold
Environmental Ethics Vol. 19/1 (1997), pages 69-85

I examine Fox’s tripartite characterization of deep ecology. His assessment abandons Naess’s emphasis upon the pluralism of ultimate norms by distilling what I refer to as the deep ecology approach to “Self-realization!” Contrary to Fox, I argue that his popular sense is distinctive and his formal sense is tenable. Fox’s philosophical sense, while distinctive, is neither necessary nor sufficient to adequately characterize the deep ecology approach. I contend that the deep ecology approach, as a formal approach to environmental philosophy, is not dependent upon and embodies much more than any single ultimate norm. I discuss how Naess’s deep ecology approach supports a wide diversity of ultimate norms. The only stipulation placed upon ultimate norms, to make them deep ecological ultimate norms, is that the so called deep ecology platform be derivable from them. The deep ecology approach is distinguished, in part, through its focus on diminishing environmentally degrading practices and policies by addressing root causes and by highlighting pseudo-conflicts. I present an interpretation of the deep ecology approach that hightlights Naess’s emphasis upon assisting
individuals to arrive at thoroughly reasoned, consistent, and ecologically sound concrete decisions by supporting them in the articulation of their own personal ecological total views (ecosophies).

Progress and Environmental Sustainability

Gowdy, John M.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 16/1 (1994), pages 41-55

One of the most pervasive ideas in Western culture is the notion of progress. Among economists, it is synonymous with economic growth. According to advocates of unlimited growth, more growth will result in a cleaner environment, a stable population level, and social and economic equality. Although most environmentalists do not subscribe to the growth ethic, they generally cling to a notion of progress by arguing that there has been continual enlightenment in public attitudes toward the environment and that this enlightenment can lead to environmental salvation. I argue that there is no convincing argument for past human progress and no reason to believe that it will occur in the future. Once we abandon notions of progress, we free ourselves to concentrate on making do with what we have rather than placing our hopes on some future material or ethical utopia.

Environmental Ethics and Tropical Rain Forests: Should Greens Have Standing?

Gunn, Alastair S.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 16/1 (1994), pages 21-40

Almost everyone in the developed world wants the logging of tropical rain forests to stop. Like Antarctica, they are said to be much too important and much too valuable to be utilized just for development and are said to be part of a global heritage. However, it is not that simple. People in the developing world consider our criticisms to be ill-informed, patronizing, and self-serving. We are seen as having “dirty hands.” They hold that we neither have nor deserve moral standing as critics until we change our trade policies, rhetoric, and extravagant lifestyles.

Environmental Virtue Ethics: A New Direction for Environmental Ethics

Frasz, Geoffrey B.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 15/3 (1993), pages 259-274

In this essay, I first extend the insights of virtue ethics into environmental ethics and examine the possible dangers of this approach. Second, I analyze some qualities of character that an environmentally virtuous person must possess. Third, I evaluate “humility” as an environmental virtue, specifically, the position of Thomas E. Hill, Jr. I conclude that Hill’s conception of “proper” humility can be more adequately explicated by associating it with another virtue, environmental “openness.”