Responses to Environmental Ethics

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Applied Ethics: Kant

Kantian Ethics applied to the Environment 

We should treat non-rational beings with respect because...

  • Universalizability - we should do something that we believe everyone else should do/be morally obliged to do => we must not exploit the environment as this would suggest everione has an obligation to do so. 

Kantian Ethics suggest we should approach the Environment with...

  • Stewardship - as we need authority. Importantly, we need to have the responsibility to look after the world in an autonomous way. 
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Applied Ethics: Utilitarianism (B&M)

"Live for today" is not a good environmental approach because...

  • It could jeopardise future generations - for example, a non-renewable resource could danger the future environment of the next generation (crude oil - utilitarians would prefer the use of wind farms for energy).

Utilitarians think we should take care of the environment because...

  • Mill saw it as a "higher pleasure" for one to preserve the environment because it ensures well being and enjoyment for future generations. 
  • Peter Singer argues it must be a preference to look after the environment on the behalf of the next generations. 
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Applied Ethics: Virtue

The focus for someone who follows virtue ethics is...

  • Human flourishment and development - if humanity is to flourish, it must survive. Therefore Virtue Ethics has a not got an anthroprocentric approach. 
  • Instead it has a holistic approach focusing on what is important for us to survive. 

We develop virtuous behaviour with regard to the environment by...

  • Following role models - for example, St. Francis of Assissi
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Religious Approach: Dominion

Dominion: Humankind are given total authority over the world/nature as we are created in the image of God and have a special relationship that other creatures do not possess. 

Genesis 1:28: "Let them have dominion over the fish, the birds, livestock, dark and all creatures."

Aristotle: "She (nature) has made all animals for the sake of man."

Dominion derives from the idea that we have been given total authority over all living things on earth from God. This can be interpreted differently - as it gives the impression that there is a hierarchy of life, which shouldn't be the case. 

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Religious Approach: Dominion

Dominion: Humankind are given total authority over the world/nature as we are created in the image of God and have a special relationship that other creatures do not possess. 

Genesis 1:28: "Let them have dominion over the fish, the birds, livestock, dark and all creatures."

Aristotle: "She (nature) has made all animals for the sake of man."

Dominion derives from the idea that we have been given total authority over all living things on earth from God. This can be interpreted differently - as it gives the impression that there is a hierarchy of life, which shouldn't be the case. 

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Religious Approach: Stewardship

Stewardship: the belief that God has given us responsibility for all living things on his behalf.

Adolfo Maerati - "Courteous, tolerant, humble, just and in awe of creation that God has entrusted to their core." 

Parable of the Talents - "Use things, but use it well."

There is an emphasis of protecting and preserving God's creation in the 2nd book of Genesis. We are merely caring for the planet on the behalf of God - the owner. We are responsible to God for the use of his earth, thus we are judged (Noah's Ark) on how we take responsibility for what God has gifted us. 

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Religious Approach: Creation Spirituality

Creation Spirituality -  emphasises that humankind is part of creation and God is revealed within it. 

St. Francis of Assisi - God can be found in all creation. 

Aquinas' 5 Causes 

Animals and birds convey to us the understanding of God's purpose and plan - to destroy/harm them is a sin as God entrusted their well being in us. Can be compared to the Gaia Theory by James Lovelock - we are part of creation, not separate to it. 

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Religious Approaches: Consequences of Sin

Consequences of Sin - Original Sin has had a negative impact on the relationship between God and us and ultimately our relationship with the environment. 

Disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden 

In Genesis, principles of Stewardship was ignored several times. 

As a consequence of disobedience in the Garden of Eden, humans have neglected their responsibility and ownership of the environment, therefore has damaged our relationship with God. We must return to the principles of stewardship to solve this situation. 

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