The course investigates the rights and responsibilities of persons toward nature and all of its biological inhabitants. It acquaints students with leading ethical theories (Utilitarianism; Naturalism, Ethical Relativism, Deontology, Intuitionism; Ecofeminism, Virtue Ethics, Species Egalitarianism) and explores their relevance to the resolution of environmental conflicts between: economic development and preservation of natural resources; inexpensive food versus factory farms; consumerism versus toxic waste reduction; climate change policy versus environmental justice. Topics include: anthropocentric vs. biocentric theories for natural resource protection; precautionary principle; tragedy of the commons, ethics of cost-benefit analysis; equity and risk management; status of “rights” of non-human species and future generations; ethical considerations of sustainable development & energy use; genetically modified crops; transgenic animals; deep ecology; the culturenature split; ecofeminism and other green social movements; economic and noneconomic value of wilderness and sacred lands; ecological economics. The moral voices of writers like Leopold, Mill, Locke, McPhee, Taylor, Ehrlich, Hardin, Callicott, Singer, Commoner, Passmore, and Rollston will be discussed. Students will be encouraged to develop a coherent ethical framework for addressing environmental conflicts that is consistent with their moral and cultural values.
COURSE OBJECTIVES • • • • •
Studies the role of ethical reasoning in framing environmental problems Explores the interactions between science, ethics/values, and policy. Engages students in an ethical analysis of policy issues. Acquaints students with different ethical theories (consequentialist vs nonconsequentialist; naturalism, ethical relativism, intuitionism; ecofeminism; biocentrism,) applied to environmental problems. Discusses the use of ethical principles and theories guiding environmental decision making (non-anthropocentrism; precautionary principle; utilitarianism; deep ecology) in discussions of natural resource protection, agriculture, climate change, rights of non-human species.
The course will be run in a quasi-discussion format with active participation from students. Students will be encouraged to clarify and sharpen their ethical perspectives on environment problems and to critically assess other perspectives
Readings: Books: (available at the book store); articles on Trunk. David R. Keller, ed. Environmental Ethics Wiley & Blackwell, 2010 John McPhee. Encounters with the Archdruid. Farrar, Straus & Giroux Paul W. Taylor. Respect for Nature. Princeton Univ. Press Donald A. Brown. Climate Change Ethics. Routledge 2013. Sept 6. Sess 1
Introduction: Ethics and Environmental Problems The role of ethics in popular discourse and policy: 6 dimensions of policy Distinguishing ethical from non-ethical (policy/scientific debates). Students’ experience with moral arguments. Seminal questions in environmental ethics.
Sept 13. Sess 2
Ethical Theory in Practice Different roles of ethics in society. First principles: naturalism (including natural law ethics); utilitarianism; deontological ethics; virtue ethics; intrinsic vs. instrumental value; The dilemmas of ethical reasoning: the rhetorical power of moral discourse. Moral realism; ethical naturalism; subjectivism; emotism.
Readings In Keller: “What is Environmental Ethics,” pp. 1-23 “Is there a Need for a New, an Environmental Ethic?” pp. 98-103. John McPhee. Encounters with the Archdruid.Part 1, A Mountain, pp. 1-75 James Garvey, Ch. 2. “Right and Wrong,” pp.33-55. Sept 20. Sess 3
Sacred Lands vs. Natural Resources: Conservation, Preservation Development How we value natural resources; land ethic; dams, river diversions; mining, fracking; managing forests. Competing values in conflict: preservation vs. development. Distinction between the built and natural environment; why humans are considered outside of nature.
Readings John McPhee. Encounters with the Archdruid. Part 2, An Island. Part 3 A River, pp 79245. Aldo Leopold. “The Land Ethic.” In: A Sand County Almanac, pp. 237-279. [T]
In Keller: “The Amoral Status of Nature,” by John Stuart Mill, 73-77. “Nature as Economic Resource,” by John Locke, 77-81. “Attitudes Toward Nature,” by John Passmore, 103-109. Kirk Johnson. Bill opening up wilderness areas to bikes also opens debate. NYTimes Aug. 19, 2016. Doug Scott, Keep bikes off our wilderness trails. NYTimes Op Ed Sept. 5, 2016. Sept 27. Sess. 4
Anthropocetrism vs Biocentrism Concept of “anthropocentrism” and its importance in environmental ethics. Different forms of anthropocentrism. Can humans escape an anthropocentric viewpoint?
Readings W.H. Murdy, “Anthropocentrism: A Modern Version, Science 187:1168-1172 (March 28, 1975). 28 [T] Ronald E. Purser, Changkil Park, Alfonso Montuor “Limits to Anthropocentrism: Toward an Ecocentric Organization Paradigm? The Academy of Management Review Vol. 20, No. 4 (Oct., 1995), pp. 1053-1089 [T]
Tim Hayward. Ch. 3. Anthropocentrism: A misunderstood problem. In: Political Theory and Ecological Values, pp. 42-57. St.Martin’s Press, 1998. [T] In Keller: “In Defense of Anthropocentrism,” by Beckerman and Pasek, 83-88 “The Varieties of Intrinsic Value,” by John O’Neil, 120-129. “Value in Nature and the Nature of Value,” by Holmes Rollston III, 130-137. “The End of Anthropocentrism? by Mary Midgley, 137-142.
Oct 4 Sess 5
Ecological Ethics: Sustainable Agriculture & Transgenic Food Crops Historical background of genetically altered crops; biopollution; GMOs vs chemical pesticides; labeling; GMOs and world hunger. Are GM crops sustainable? Post-mechanistic agricultural ethic.
Readings In Keller, Wes Jackson, “Nature as the Measure for a Sustainable Agriculture,” 476-490. Keller & Brummer, “Putting Food Production in Context: Toward a Postmechanistic Agricultural Ethic,” 481-490
Sheldon Krimsky. Ethical issues involving the production, planting, and distribution of genetically modified crops. In: Engineering the Farm, B. Bailey and M. Lappé, eds. Pp. 11-26. Island Press, 2002. [T] Sheldon Krimsky and Roger Wrubel. The cultural and symbolic dimensions of agricultural biotechnology. In: Agricultural Biotechnology and the Environment. University of Illinois Press, pp. 212-231. [T]* Peter Rosset. Taking seriously the claim that genetic engineering could end hunger: a critical analysis. In: Engineering the Farm, 81-93. [T] Paull B. Thompson. Why food biotechnology needs an opt out. In: Engineering the Farm, 27-43. [T] Maarten J. Chrispeels. Biotechnology and the Poor. Plant Physiology 124:3-6 (September 2000). [T]*
Oct 11. Sess. 6
Climate Change Ethics: Scientific Uncertainty & Ethical Principles Global responsibility for reducing Greenhouse gases; moral basis of the Kyoto Protocol; US position; allocating CO 2 emission between North and South; Personal and state responsibilities to combat climate change.
Readings Donald A. Brown, Climate Change Ethics Chaps. 1-4.
Oct 18 Climate Change Ethics: Responsibility of Nations, Organizations & People Sess.. 7 Which ethical theory is most applicable to the problems of climate change and sea water rise? Tragedy of the Commons; Utilitarianism; The Free Rider; Mutually Assured Destruction for Inaction. Donald A. Brown, Climate Change Ethics Chaps 7-11.
Oct. 25. Sess. 8
Environmental Theories: Deep Ecology, Social Ecology, Ecofeminism Biospheric egalitarianism: social, political, economic and ecological; importance of “scale” as an independent variable in environmental sustainability; transpersonal ecology: caring for people and the biosphere;
Ecofeminism: domination of women connected to domination of nature; nature-culture dualism. Readings In Keller: “The Shallow and the Deep Ecology Movement,” by Arne Naess, 230-234 “The Heart of Deep Ecology,” by Andrew McLaughlin, 235-239 “The Deep Ecology Movement: Some Philosophical Aspects,” 240-245 “What is Social Ecology,” by Murray Bookchin, 268-275. “The Power and the Promise of Ecological Feminism,” by Karen J. Warren, , 281291. “Ecofeminism and Feminist Theory,” by Carolyn Merchant, 291-300 Readings Nov. 1 Sess. 9
Consumerism, Sustainability, Forms of Market Economy, & Earth Ethics. Obligation to consume less; redefining quality of life; responsibility to future generations; North-South wealth disparity; the phenomenon of “affluenza,” the treadmill of production; theories of consumption.
Readings Paul G. Harris. Global Ethics and Climate Change Ch.6. Affluence, Consumption and Atmospheric Pollution, 123-157. Lester W. Milbrath. Redefining the good life in a sustainable society. Environmental Values 2:261-269 (1993). [T] Mark Sagoff. Do we consumer too much? Atlantic Monthly June 1997, pp. 80-96. [B] Paul Ehrlich et al. No middle way on the environment. Atlantic Monthly December 1997, pp. 98-104. [T] K.S. Shrader-Frechette. “Voluntary Simplicity and the Duty to Limit Consumption.” In: Enviromental Ethics by Shrader-Frechette. Boxwood Press, 1981, pp. 169-193. [T]* Allan Schnaiberg. “The Expansion of Consumption” in The Environment: From Surplus to Scarcity [T]
Nov. 8: Sess. 10
Rights and Considerations of Animals Animals as sentient beings; utilitarian vs deontological foundations for animal protection; animals in research; moral basis of vegetarianism. Is the humane exploitation of animals an oxymoron?
Readings Louis P. Pojman. Ch. 7. Animal rights: sentience as significant. In: Global Environmental Ethics, pp. 106-135. [T] J. R. Des Jardins. Ch. 6. Responsibilities to the natural world: the case for animals. In: Environmental Ethics, pp. 112-126. [T] Peter Singer. All animals are equal. In: Animal Liberation. The New York Review, 1976, pp. 1-27. [T] Eric Katz. Defending the use of animals by business: Animal liberation and environmental ethics. In Nature as Subject Rowman & Littlefield, 1997, pp. 79-80. [T]
Nov. 15. Sess. 11
Non-Anthropocentric Ethics I Human vs. biocentric ethics; intrinsic value of living things; A non-human centered ethical theory.
Readings Paul Taylor. Respect for Nature, pp. 1-99. Nov. 22: Nov. 29 Sess. 12.
No Class Non-Anthropocentric Ethics II Taylor’s theory of biocentric ethics; resolving conflicts between humans and non-human living things; basic and non-basic rights/needs of species.
Readings Paul Taylor. Respect for Nature, pp. 100-218. Dec. 6. Sess. 13.
Critique of Respect for Nature: Rethinking biocentrism as a basis for environmental ethics. Cultural Theory of Environmental Ethics
Readings Paul Taylor. Respect for Nature, pp. 219-313.
Don E. Marietta, Jr. In For People and the Planet. Temple Univ. Press, 1994, Anthropocentrism and Environmental Ethics.pp. 69-80; The status of values in nature, pp. 119-139; Contextual environmental ethics, pp. 141-153. [T]
Assignments Class participation (includes attendance & preparedness)…10pts Essay 1 (3-5 pages)…………………………………………20pts Due Oct 4 Class presentation & analysis on designated readings……. 10 pts TBD for each person Topic for semester paper reviewed by instructor: 1-2 pages……………….. Draft Paper for peer review………………………………………………10
pts Peer Review (2-3 pages) ………………………………… 10pts Semester Final Paper (at least 12 pages + ref……………… 40pts 100pts
Oct. 12 Nov. 16 Nov. 30 Dec. 12 5PM (paper copy)
The semester paper is written in three stages. 1. Submit a 1-2 page problem statement, which defines your subject of investigation on Oct. 12. 2. Submit a draft of the paper which will be reviewed by me and one of your colleagues; the review is 2-3 pages (you will be given guidelines). Nov. 16 3. Submit your review of your colleagues paper on Nov. 30th. 4. Use my comments and your colleagues review to revise your paper. Final paper due Dec. 12 at 5PM.
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