The man-nature relationship and environmental ethics.
PDF | A social scientific survey on visions of human/nature relationships in Public Visions of the Human/Nature Relationship and their Implications for Environmental Ethics .. 16 Both authors find inspiration in ecofeminist writing and use a. fact about environmental problems is that they are mainly human-caused. These .. human-nature relationship and forthe good ofnonhuman moral subjects. .. various other liberation movements, some writers, such as Ynestra King (a. That environmental ethics should be biocentric, not anthropocentric, and therefore that . Also, owing to the large variance about species-area relationships, those who use island . as greed and consumerism harm both humans and the natural environment (e.g.,Passmore .. Download PDF Write a comment here.
Meanwhile, some third-world critics accused deep ecology of being elitist in its attempts to preserve wilderness experiences for only a select group of economically and socio-politically well-off people. The Indian writer Ramachandra Guhafor instance, depicts the activities of many western-based conservation groups as a new form of cultural imperialism, aimed at securing converts to conservationism cf.
Bookchin and Brennan a. Finally, in other critiques, deep ecology is portrayed as having an inconsistent utopian vision see Anker and Witoszek By the mid s, feminist writers had raised the issue of whether patriarchal modes of thinking encouraged not only widespread inferiorizing and colonizing of women, but also of people of colour, animals and nature. Sheila Collinsfor instance, argued that male-dominated culture or patriarchy is supported by four interlocking pillars: Emphasizing the importance of feminism to the environmental movement and various other liberation movements, some writers, such as Ynestra King a and bargue that the domination of women by men is historically the original form of domination in human society, from which all other hierarchies—of rank, class, and political power—flow.
For instance, human exploitation of nature may be seen as a manifestation and extension of the oppression of women, in that it is the result of associating nature with the female, which had been already inferiorized and oppressed by the male-dominating culture.
Environmental Ethics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
But within the plurality of feminist positions, other writers, such as Val Plumwoodunderstand the oppression of women as only one of the many parallel forms of oppression sharing and supported by a common ideological structure, in which one party the colonizer, whether male, white or human uses a number of conceptual and rhetorical devices to privilege its interests over that of the other party the colonized: Facilitated by a common structure, seemingly diverse forms of oppression can mutually reinforce each other Warren,Cheneyand Plumwood These patterns of thinking and conceptualizing the world, many feminist theorists argue, also nourish and sustain other forms of chauvinism, including, human-chauvinism i.
Furthermore, under dualism all the first items in these contrasting pairs are assimilated with each other, and all the second items are likewise linked with each other. For example, the male is seen to be associated with the rational, active, creative, Cartesian human mind, and civilized, orderly, transcendent culture; whereas the female is regarded as tied to the emotional, passive, determined animal body, and primitive, disorderly, immanent nature. These interlocking dualisms are not just descriptive dichotomies, according to the feminists, but involve a prescriptive privileging of one side of the opposed items over the other.
Dualism confers superiority to everything on the male side, but inferiority to everything on the female side. The problem with dualistic and hierarchical modes of thinking, however, is not just that that they are epistemically unreliable.
It is not just that the dominating party often falsely sees the dominated party as lacking or possessing the allegedly superior or inferior qualities, or that the dominated party often internalizes false stereotypes of itself given by its oppressors, or that stereotypical thinking often overlooks salient and important differences among individuals.
More important, according to feminist analyses, the very premise of prescriptive dualism—the valuing of attributes of one polarized side and the devaluing of those of the other, the idea that domination and oppression can be justified by appealing to attributes like masculinity, rationality, being civilized or developed, etc. Feminism represents a radical challenge for environmental thinking, politics, and traditional social ethical perspectives.
It promises to link environmental questions with wider social problems concerning various kinds of discrimination and exploitation, and fundamental investigations of human psychology. However, whether there are conceptual, causal or merely contingent connections among the different forms of oppression and liberation remains a contested issue see Green However, because of the varieties of, and disagreements among, feminist theories, the label may be too wide to be informative and has generally fallen from use.
At the root of this alienation, they argue, is a narrow positivist conception of rationality—which sees rationality as an instrument for pursuing progress, power and technological control, and takes observation, measurement and the application of purely quantitative methods to be capable of solving all problems. Such a positivistic view of science combines determinism with optimism. Natural processes as well as human activities are seen to be predictable and manipulable.
Nature and, likewise, human nature is no longer mysterious, uncontrollable, or fearsome. Instead, it is reduced to an object strictly governed by natural laws, which therefore can be studied, known, and employed to our benefit.
By promising limitless knowledge and power, the positivism of science and technology not only removes our fear of nature, the critical theorists argue, but also destroys our sense of awe and wonder towards it. The progress in knowledge and material well-being may not be a bad thing in itself, where the consumption and control of nature is a necessary part of human life.
However, the critical theorists argue that the positivistic disenchantment of natural things and, likewise, of human beings—because they too can be studied and manipulated by science disrupts our relationship with them, encouraging the undesirable attitude that they are nothing more than things to be probed, consumed and dominated. To remedy such an alienation, the project of Horkheimer and Adorno is to replace the narrow positivistic and instrumentalist model of rationality with a more humanistic one, in which the values of the aesthetic, moral, sensuous and expressive aspects of human life play a central part.
Thus, their aim is not to give up our rational faculties or powers of analysis and logic.
Rather, the ambition is to arrive at a dialectical synthesis between Romanticism and Enlightenment, to return to anti-deterministic values of freedom, spontaneity and creativity. Not only do we stop seeing nature as primarily, or simply, an object of consumption, we are also able to be directly and spontaneously acquainted with nature without interventions from our rational faculties.
The re-enchantment of the world through aesthetic experience, he argues, is also at the same time a re-enchantment of human lives and purposes. Ecocritique does not think that it is paradoxical to say, in the name of ecology itself: It remains to be seen, however, whether the radical attempt to purge the concept of nature from eco-critical work meets with success.
On the other hand, the new animists have been much inspired by the serious way in which some indigenous peoples placate and interact with animals, plants and inanimate things through ritual, ceremony and other practices. According to the new animists, the replacement of traditional animism the view that personalized souls are found in animals, plants, and other material objects by a form of disenchanting positivism directly leads to an anthropocentric perspective, which is accountable for much human destructiveness towards nature.
In a disenchanted world, there is no meaningful order of things or events outside the human domain, and there is no source of sacredness or dread of the sort felt by those who regard the natural world as peopled by divinities or demons Stone When a forest is no longer sacred, there are no spirits to be placated and no mysterious risks associated with clear-felling it. A disenchanted nature is no longer alive. It commands no respect, reverence or love.
It is nothing but a giant machine, to be mastered to serve human purposes. The new animists argue for reconceptualizing the boundary between persons and non-persons. Whether the notion that a mountain or a tree is to be regarded as a person is taken literally or not, the attempt to engage with the surrounding world as if it consists of other persons might possibly provide the basis for a respectful attitude to nature see Harvey for a popular account of the new animism.
If disenchantment is a source of environmental problems and destruction, then the new animism can be regarded as attempting to re-enchant, and help to save, nature. In her work, Freya Mathews has tried to articulate a version of animism or panpsychism that captures ways in which the world not just nature contains many kinds of consciousness and sentience.
Instead of bulldozing away old suburbs and derelict factories, the synergistic panpsychist sees these artefacts as themselves part of the living cosmos, hence part of what is to be respected.
Likewise, instead of trying to eliminate feral or exotic plants and animals, and restore environments to some imagined pristine state, ways should be found—wherever possible—to promote synergies between the newcomers and the older native populations in ways that maintain ecological flows and promote the further unfolding and developing of ecological processes Mathews Environmentalism, on his view, is a social movement, and the problems it confronts are social problems.
While Bookchin is prepared, like Horkheimer and Adorno, to regard first nature as an aesthetic and sensuous marvel, he regards our intervention in it as necessary. He suggests that we can choose to put ourselves at the service of natural evolution, to help maintain complexity and diversity, diminish suffering and reduce pollution.
While Bookchin is more of a technological optimist than Mumford, both writers have inspired a regional turn in environmental thinking. Bioregionalism gives regionalism an environmental twist. This is the view that natural features should provide the defining conditions for places of community, and that secure and satisfying local lives are led by those who know a place, have learned its lore and who adapt their lifestyle to its affordances by developing its potential within ecological limits.
Such a life, the bioregionalists argue, will enable people to enjoy the fruits of self-liberation and self-development see the essays in Listand the book-length treatment in Thayerfor an introduction to bioregional thought. However, critics have asked why natural features should significant in defining the places in which communities are to be built, and have puzzled over exactly which natural features these should be—geological, ecological, climatic, hydrological, and so on see Brennan b.
If relatively small, bioregional communities are to be home to flourishing human societies, then a question also arises over the nature of the laws and punishments that will prevail in them, and also of their integration into larger regional and global political and economic groupings. For anarchists and other critics of the predominant social order, a return to self-governing and self-sufficient regional communities is often depicted as liberating and refreshing.
But for the skeptics, the worry remains that the bioregional vision is politically over-optimistic and is open to the establishment of illiberal, stifling and undemocratic communities. Further, given its emphasis on local self-sufficiency and the virtue of life in small communities, a question arises over whether bioregionalism is workable in an overcrowded planet.
Deep ecology, feminism, and social ecology have had a considerable impact on the development of political positions in regard to the environment.6. Approach 3: Value in Nature: An Ecological Ethic [Environmental Ethics]
Feminist analyses have often been welcomed for the psychological insight they bring to several social, moral and political problems. There is, however, considerable unease about the implications of critical theory, social ecology and some varieties of deep ecology and animism.
A further suggestion is that there is a need to reassess traditional theories such as virtue ethics, which has its origins in ancient Greek philosophy see the following section within the context of a form of stewardship similar to that earlier endorsed by Passmore see Barry If this last claim is correct, then the radical activist need not, after all, look for philosophical support in radical, or countercultural, theories of the sort deep ecology, feminism, bioregionalism and social ecology claim to be but see Zimmerman Traditional Ethical Theories and Contemporary Environment Ethics Although environmental ethicists often try to distance themselves from the anthropocentrism embedded in traditional ethical views PassmoreNorton are exceptionsthey also quite often draw their theoretical resources from traditional ethical systems and theories.
Consider the following two basic moral questions: From this perspective, answers to question 2 are informed by answers to question 1. As the utilitarian focus is the balance of pleasure and pain as such, the question of to whom a pleasure or pain belongs is irrelevant to the calculation and assessment of the rightness or wrongness of actions. Hence, the eighteenth century utilitarian Jeremy Benthamand now Peter Singerhave argued that the interests of all the sentient beings i.
Singer regards the animal liberation movement as comparable to the liberation movements of women and people of colour. Unlike the environmental philosophers who attribute intrinsic value to the natural environment and its inhabitants, Singer and utilitarians in general attribute intrinsic value to the experience of pleasure or interest satisfaction as such, not to the beings who have the experience.
Similarly, for the utilitarian, non-sentient objects in the environment such as plant species, rivers, mountains, and landscapes, all of which are the objects of moral concern for environmentalists, are of no intrinsic but at most instrumental value to the satisfaction of sentient beings see SingerCh.
Furthermore, because right actions, for the utilitarian, are those that maximize the overall balance of interest satisfaction over frustration, practices such as whale-hunting and the killing of an elephant for ivory, which cause suffering to non-human animals, might turn out to be right after all: As the result of all the above considerations, it is unclear to what extent a utilitarian ethic can also be an environmental ethic.
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This point may not so readily apply to a wider consequentialist approach, which attributes intrinsic value not only to pleasure or satisfaction, but also to various objects and processes in the natural environment. Deontological ethical theories, in contrast, maintain that whether an action is right or wrong is for the most part independent of whether its consequences are good or bad.
From the deontologist perspective, there are several distinct moral rules or duties e. When asked to justify an alleged moral rule, duty or its corresponding right, deontologists may appeal to the intrinsic value of those beings to whom it applies.
We have, in particular, a prima facie moral duty not to harm them. Regan maintains that certain practices such as sport or commercial hunting, and experimentation on animals violate the moral right of intrinsically valuable animals to respectful treatment.
Such practices, he argues, are intrinsically wrong regardless of whether or not some better consequences ever flow from them. Exactly which animals have intrinsic value and therefore the moral right to respectful treatment? To be such a subject is a sufficient though not necessary condition for having intrinsic value, and to be a subject-of-a-life involves, among other things, having sense-perceptions, beliefs, desires, motives, memory, a sense of the future, and a psychological identity over time.
Some authors have extended concern for individual well-being further, arguing for the intrinsic value of organisms achieving their own good, whether those organisms are capable of consciousness or not. Furthermore, Taylor maintains that the intrinsic value of wild living things generates a prima facie moral duty on our part to preserve or promote their goods as ends in themselves, and that any practices which treat those beings as mere means and thus display a lack of respect for them are intrinsically wrong.
A more recent and biologically detailed defence of the idea that living things have representations and goals and hence have moral worth is found in Agar Attfield also endorses a form of consequentialism which takes into consideration, and attempts to balance, the many and possibly conflicting goods of different living things also see Varner for a defense of biocentric individualism with affinities to both consequentialist and deontological approaches.
For instance, even if HIV has a good of its own this does not mean that we ought to assign any positive moral weight to the realization of that good. More recently, the distinction between these two traditional approaches has taken its own specific form of development in environmental philosophy.
Instead of pitting conceptions of value against conceptions of rights, it has been suggested that there may be two different conceptions of intrinsic value in play in discussion about environmental good and evil.
One the one side, there is the intrinsic value of states of affairs that are to be promoted - and this is the focus of the consequentialist thinkers. Environmental aesthetics, design and restoration have emerged as important intersecting disciplines that keep shifting the boundaries of environmental thought, as have the science of climate change and biodiversity and the ethical, political and epistemological questions they raise.
Today, environmental philosophy is a burgeoning and increasingly relevant field. Deep ecology movement[ edit ] Main article: The well-being and flourishing of human and non-human life have value.
Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.
The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease in the human population. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening. We have never experienced so little so loudly, so brashly, so trivially, so thinly, so neurotically. For a comparison of the "world of experience we have lost" to reword Peter Lasletf s titleread the excellent personal accounts of so-called Bushmen, or San people, the Ituri Forest pygmies, and the works of Paul Radin on food-gatherers and hunters—not simply as records of their lifeways but of their epistemologies.
Ecofeminism is a term coined by Francoise d'Eaubonne. The con- cept is that a connection exists between the aspects of domination that hu- mans exert on the biosphere and that the male-dominated social system exerts on women.
The various aspects of this logic of domination are central to ecofeminism. Behind this model are assump- tions that are not too dissimilar to Bookchin's previous essay except that the focus is on the domination of women in the context of domination in general.
Merchant is interested in putting these connections into a comparative context with: The ultimate end of this analysis is to create a synergy of interests, tactics, and intended results. Warren seeks to portray ecofeminism as an essential element to any environmental ethical theory. She identifies eight points of feminism that center on the pluralism and contextualism that are missing in the current so- cial climate. The question then becomes which biased theory is better. After proposing the feminist po- sition, she emends each of the eight points with ecofeminism objectives to Worldview Arguments for Environmentalism 77 mportance of defining such disciplines as as social terms.
Recent uses of "social ecol- ife in fairly conventional ecological terms irt which glibly pick up the term serve to tend to compromise efforts to deepen oui let than opposed domains. To say that culture is precisely: The twentieth century alorie nses" as well as to ottr folk creativity and loudly, so brashly, so trivially, so thinly, so: The con- e aspects of domination that hu- le-doniinated social system exerts gic of domination are central to nainstream feminist theory might 1.
Behind this model are assump- i's previous essay except that the context of domination in general, actions into a comparative context ism, c radical feminism, and d analysis is to create a synergy of minism as an essential element to ifies eight points of feminism that hat are missing in the current so- ed is that Warren does not helieve. The question After proposing the feminist po- i with ecofeminism objectives to show how similar these two worldviews are and that they should therefore be accepted as a package.
Val Plumwood argues in her essay that the issues of discontinuity and of instrumentalism are among the most important ones to be addressed. In this way, the lessons of the deep ecologists are accepted. However, deep ecology goes too far in iden- tifying the self with the biosphere and should instead critique social insti- tutions and patriarchy for they are the human institutions that promote instrumentalism.
Men use women as the tools by which their purposes might be fulfilled. In the same way, humans use nature as a tool; but like the social ecologists, the ecofeminists emphasize the development of actual people as opposed to the Hindu self of the deep ecologists in a community both social and natural. Ecofeminism and Feminist Theory Carolyn Merchant The term ecofeminisme was coined by the French writer Francoise d'Eaubonne in to represent women's potential for bringing about an ecological revo- lution to ensure human survival on the planet.
Radi- cal ecofeminism analyzes environmental problems from within its critique of patriarchy and offers alternatives that could liberate both women and nature. Socialist ecofeminism grounds its analysis in capitalist patriarchy and would totally restructure, through a socialist revolution, the domination of women and nature inherent in the market economy's use of both as resources.
Its roots are liberalism, the political theory that incorporates the scientific analysis that nature is com- posed of atoms moved by external forces with a theory of human nature that views humans as individual rational agents who maximize their own self- interest and capitalism as the optimal economic structure for human progress.
Historically, liberal feminists have argued that women do not differ from men. Better science, conservation, and laws are the proper approaches to resolving resource problems. Given equal educational opportunities to become scientists, natural resource man- agers, regulators, lawyers, and legislators, women like men can contribute to the improvement of the environment, the conservation of natural resources, and the higher quality of human life. Women, therefore, can transcend the so- cial stigma of their biology and join men in the cultural project of environ- mental conservation.
Radical feminism developed in the late s and s with the sec- ond wave of feminism. The radical form of ecofeminism is a response to the perception that women and nature have been mutually associated and de- valued in Western culture andxthat both can be elevated and liberated through direct political action.
In prehistory an emerging patriarchal culture dethroned the mother Goddesses and replaced them with male gods to whom the female deities became subservient. The Earth is to be dominated by male-developed and -controlled tech- nology, science, and industry. Radical feminism instead celebrates the relationship between women and nature through the revival of ancient rituals centered on Goddess worship, the moon, animals, and the female reproductive system. A vision in which nature is held in esteem as mother and Goddess is a source of inspiration and empowerment for many ecoferninists.
Spirituahty is seen as a source of both personal and social change. Goddess worship and rituals centered around the lunar and female menstrual cycles, lectures, concerts, art exhibitions, street and theater productions, and direct political action web weaving in anti- nuclear protests are all examples of the re-visioning of nature and women as powerful forces. For radical feminists, human nature is grounded in human biology.