Norton, Bryan G.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 19/1 (1997), pages 87-100
The convergence hypothesis asserts that, if one takes the full range of human values—present and future—into account, one will choose a set of policies that can also be accepted by an advocate of a consistent and reasonable nonanthropocentrism. Brian Steverson has attacked this hypothesis from a surprising direction. He attributes to deep ecologists the position that nonhuman nature has intrinsic value, interprets this position to mean that no species could ever be allowed to go extinct, and proceeds to show that my commitment to contextualism prohibits me from advocating the protection of species universally. In response, I show, by reference to recent scientific findings, how difficult it is to defend species preservation in all situations. In particular, I argue that Steverson’s appeal to a possible world in which we have nearly complete biological knowledge misses the point of the convergence hypothesis. It is an empirical hypothesis, with significant indirect, and some direct, evidence to support it. Although it is a falsifiable hypothesis about realworld policies, it cannot be falsified by a contrary-to-fact case.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 15/3 (1993), pages 225-244
While both ecofeminism and deep ecology share a commitment to overcoming the conventional division between humanity and nature, a major difference between the two is that deep ecology brings little social analysis to its environmental ethic. I argue that there are ideological reasons for this difference. Applying a sociology of knowledge and discourse analysis to deep ecological texts to uncover these reasons, I conclude that deep ecology is constrained by political attitudes meaningful to white-male, middle-class professionals whose thought is not grounded in the labor of daily maintenance and survival. At a micro-political level, this masculinist orientation is revealed by an armory of defensive discursive strategies and techniques used in deep ecological responses to ecofeminist criticism.
Goodin, David K.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 29/4 (2007), pages 403-21
As the last great philosopher of the will, Albert Schweitzer rejected the radical individualism of Nietzsche and the pessimistic-mystical detachment of Schopenhauer, and instead sought to create a true social ethic. Schweitzer’s particular contribution was to move further than Nietzsche to reconcile philosophy with natural science while simultaneously preserving and transforming the sense of mysticism and higher world-order principles from Schopenhauer. He joined this new cosmology to the virtue ethics of Aristotle, and recovered one key element of his ontology of becoming to transcend the Humean “is/ought” gap for ethics. The result is a philosophy that is as much biographical of Schweitzer himself as it is systematic. This result is both the strength and greatest weakness of his reverence-for-life ethic. It is tailor-made for contemporary environmental ethics: it has applications in many strands of environmental thought, including deep ecology, ecofeminism, and ecotheology, and may attract considerable interest from environmental movements that seek to cultivate deep personal conviction.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 29/1 (2007), pages 43-61
Recent critics (Andrew Light, Bryan Norton, Anthony Weston, and Bruce Morito, among others) have argued that we should give up talk of intrinsic value in general and that of nature in particular. While earlier theorists might have overestimated the importance of intrinsic value, these recent critics underestimate its importance. Claims about a thing’s intrinsic value are claims about the distinctive way in which we have reason to care about that thing. If we understand intrinsic value in this manner, we can capture the core claims that environmentalists want to make about nature while avoiding the worries raised by contemporary critics. Since the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic value plays a critical role in our understanding of the different ways that we do and should care about things, moral psychology, ethical theory in general, and environmental ethics in particular shouldn’t give up on the concept of intrinsic value.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 28/3 (2006), pages 247-264
If claims about which character traits are environmental virtues are to be more than rhetoric, there must be some basis or standard for evaluation. This naturalistic, teleological, pluralistic, and inclusive account of what makes a character trait an environmental virtue can be such a standard. It is naturalistic because it is consistent with and motivated by scientific naturalism. It is teleological because character traits are evaluated according to how well they promote certain ends. It is pluralistic because those ends are both agent-relative and agent-independent. It is inclusive because it counts environmentally justified, environmentally responsive and environmentally productive virtues as environmental virtues. This theory of environmental virtue provides the basis for the development of a typology of environmental virtue that includes virtues of sustainability, virtues of communion with nature, virtues of respect for nature, virtues of environmental activism, and virtues of environmental stewardship.