Before Environmental Ethics

Weston, Anthony
Environmental Ethics Vol. 14/4 (1992), pages 321-338

Contemporary nonanthropocentic environmental ethics is profoundly shaped by the very anthropocentrism that it tries to transcend. New values only slowly struggle free of old contexts. Recognizing this struggle, however, opens a space for—indeed, necessitates—alternative models for contemporary environmental ethics. Rather than trying to unify or fine-tune our theories, we require more pluralistic and exploratory methods. We cannot reach theoretical finality; we can only co-evolve an ethic with transformed practices.

The Naturalist’s Virtues

Cafaro, Philip
Philosophy in the Contemporary World, Volume 8/2 ( 2001), pages 85-99

This paper argues that studying natural history helps make us more virtuous; that is, better and happier people. After sketching a broad conception of virtue, I discuss how naturalizing may improve our moral character and help develop our intellectual, aesthetic and physical abilities. I next assert essential connections between nonanthropocentrism and wisdom, and between natural history study and the achievement of a nonanthropocentric stance toward the world Finally, I argue that the great naturalists suggest a noble, inspiring alternative to the gross consumption and trivial pleasures offered by our destructive modern economy: the exploration, understanding and appreciation of nature. I conclude that a better understanding of our enlightened self-interest would do as much to further environmental protection as the acknowledgment of nature’s intrinsic value.