environmental ethics and Kantian ethics

a2 ethics with OCR

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  • Created on: 04-06-12 20:27

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Applying Kantian Ethics to the Environment
Only applies to humans as they are the only creatures capable of morality
Suggests humankind are free to exploit the environment as they wish
Universability ­ if it is a universal rule to exploit the environment then everyone would have
an obligation
Believes if we exploit other animals then we are likely to do the same to other humans
Kant suggests we should treat non-rational beings with respect
Kant only believed cruelty to animals was wrong because of the impact it would have on
human attitudes
A moral responsibility to protect the environment and not destroy it
Paul Taylor suggests animals be given legal rights to be protected and preserved instead of
moral rights
o Actions must be truly without coercion to be properly moral
o To whom or what is duty offered? Humans deserve greater consideration than
animals. Animals are for our use. Although cruelty is wrong, our duty is to preserve
human interests. Strongly anthropocentric
o Moral rights are not extended to animals (or anything other than humans) as they
lack reason
o Actions which when universalised might create environmental problems should be
avoided since they damage our material well-being. Thus it is in human interest to
preserve, support environment improvement, regulation or sustainability etc
Means to an end
o If intrinsic rights can be extended to non-rational creatures, then animals at least,
might justifiably not be exploited (to what degree) for human ends
Kingdom of ends
o Could be expanded to include some non-human organisms. What quality other than
reason might confer intrinsic value? Tom Reagan suggests `robust consciousness',
that all "subjects of a life" ­ all beings that have a subjective, conscious life, "higher"
animals ­ should have intrinsic value. Paul Taylor prefers the notion that anything
which is interested in itself or its own good e.g. all organisms ­ should have intrinsic
o An act is moral only if performed to fulfil a duty, not a desire or some other
hypothetical end. The motivation to undertake this is found in rational beings and
reflected in their goodwill. Environmentally a goodwill encourages the rational being
to act dutifully, without cruelty, greed etc towards environmental features,
creatures etc
Environment is of extrinsic value
He argued in 1785 that humans have duties towards other humans, and that "cruelty to animals is
contrary to man's duty to himself, because it deadens in him the feeling of sympathy for their

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