A Defense of Environmental Ethics: A Reply to Janna Thompson

Nelson, Michael P.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 15/3 (1993), pages 245-257

Janna Thompson dismisses environmental ethics primarily because it does not meet her criteria for ethics: consistency, non-vacuity, and decidability. In place of a more expansive environmental ethic, she proposes to limit moral considerability to beings with a “point of view.” I contend, first, that a point-of-view centered ethic is unacceptable not only because it fails to meet the tests of her own and other criteria, but also because it is precisely the type of ethic that has contributed to our current environmental dilemmas. Second, I argue that the holistic, ecocentric land ethic of Aldo Leopold, as developed by J. Baird Callicott, an environmental ethic that Thompson never considers, nicely meets Thompson’s criteria for acceptable ethics, and may indeed be the cure for our environmental woes.

Multicentrism: A Manifesto

Weston, Anthony
Environmental Ethics Vol. 26/1 (2004), pages 25-40

The familiar “centrisms” in environmental ethics aim to make ethics progressively more inclusive by expanding a single circle of moral consideration I propose a radically different kind of geometry. Multicentrism envisions a world of irreducibly diverse and multiple centers of being and value—not one single circle, of whatever size or growth rate, but many circles, partly overlapping, each with its own center. Moral consideration necessarily becomes plural and ongoing, and moral action takes place within an open-ended context of negotiation and covenant. Much critical and constructive work, both in environmental ethics proper and in many related fields, is already multicentric in spirit. It needs to be drawn together into an explicit, alternative environmental-ethical “platform.”