Utilitarianism and Preservation

Katz, Eric
Environmental Ethics Vol. 1/4 (1979), pages 357-364

In “The Concept of the Irreplaceable,” John N. Martin claims that utilitarian arguments can explain the environmentalist position concerning the preservation of natural objects as long as human attitudes toward preservation are considered along with the direct benefits of environmental preservation. But this type of utilitarian justification is biased in favor of the satisfaction of human preferences. No ethical theory which calculates goodness in terms of the amount of human satisfaction can present an adequate justification of environmental preservation. Since human interests must be considered primary, natural objects will only be preserved when their preservation is in accord with human preferences.

Why Norton’s Approach is Insufficient for Environmental Ethics

Westra, Laura
Environmental Ethics Vol. 19/3 (1997), pages 279-97

There has been an ongoing debate about the best approach in environmental ethics. Bryan Norton believes that “weak anthropocentrism” will yield the best results for public policy, and that it is the most defensible position. In contrast, I have argued that an ecocentric, holistic position is required to deal with the urgent environmental problems that face us, and that position is complemented by the ecosystem approach and complex systems theory. I have called this approach “the ethics of integrity,” and in this paper I show why this perspective suggests better solutions to difficult cases, for which “weak anthropocentrism” fails to provide an answer.

Ecofeminism and Wilderness

Gaard, Greta
Environmental Ethics Vol. 19/1 (1997), pages 5-24

I argue that ecofeminism must be concerned with the preservation and expansion of wilderness on the grounds that wilderness is an Other to the Self of Western culture and the master identity and that ecofeminism is concerned with the liberation of all subordinated Others. I suggest replacing the master identity with an ecofeminist ecological self, an identity defined through interdependence with Others, and I argue for the necessity of restoring and valuing human relationships with the Other of wilderness as integral to the construction and maintenance of an ecofeminist ecological self. I conclude that ecofeminists must be concerned with the redefinition, preservation, and expansion of wilderness.

Francis of Assisi and the Diversity of Creation

Hughes, J. Donald
Environmental Ethics Vol. 18/3 (1996), pages 311-320

Francis’ view of nature has been seen as positive in an ecological sense even by those who are for the most part critical of Christianity’s attitude to nature, such as Lynn White, Jr. I argue that one element of Francis’ uniqueness was that he saw the diversity of life as an expression of God’s creativity and benevolence and attempted to carry out that vision in ethical behavior. Much of what has been written about him has precedents in traditional hagiography, but there remains an unmistakable impression of originality. It has been noted that Francis insisted on the goodness of creation, used terms of family relationship to refer to creatures other than human, and preached to them. However, another element has escaped notice: his emphasis on the presence of God in the diversity of created entities and his desire that humans should rejoice in this diversity and glorify God for it and with it. His devotion did not immediately dissolve multiplicity into oneness, but glorified God in each created being and delighted in their individuality. He advocated that praise be expressed by acting in ways consistent with respect for created diversity, not only by observing a strict rule of abstaining from harm to living beings, but also in positive treatment of all creatures. Nature took its meaning not from its serviceability to mankind, but from its expression of the multiple forms of God’s benevolent presence.

From Biocentric Individualism to Biocentric Pluralism

Sterba, James P.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 17/2 (1995), pages 191-207

Drawing on and inspired by Paul Taylor’s Respect for Nature, I develop a view which I call “biocentric pluralism,” which, I claim, avoids the major criticisms that have been directed at Taylor’s account. In addition, I show that biocentric pluralism has certain advantages over biocentric utilitarianism (VanDeVeer) and concentric circle theories (Wenz and Callicott).