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Deane-Drummond, Celia, , . Gaia as Science Made Myth: Implications for Environmental Ethics
1996, Studies in Christian Ethics 9(2): 1-5.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Content: Offers a critical discussion of the Gaia hypothesis in the context of human responsibility for climate change.

Comment: Might be useful for environmental ethics, or as further reading on methodology of science and the dangers of confusing science and myth.

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Harman, Elizabeth, , . Can we harm and benefit in creating?
2004,
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: The non-identity problem concerns actions that affect who exists in the future. If such an action is performed, certain people will exist in the future who would not otherwise have existed: they are not identical to any of the people who would have existed if the action had not been performed. Some of these actions seem to be wrong, and they seem to be wrong in virtue of harming the very future individuals whose existence is dependent on their having been performed. The problem arises when it is argued that the actions do not harm these people – because the actions do not make them worse off than they would otherwise be.1 Consider: Radioactive Waste Policy: We are trying to decide whether to adopt a permissive radioactive waste policy. This policy would be less inconvenient to us than our existing practices. If we enact the newly-proposed policy, then we will cause there to be radioactive pollution that will cause illness and suffering. However, the policy will have such significant effects on public policy and industry functioning, that different people will exist in the future depending on whether we enact the policy. Two things should be emphasized. First, the illness and suffering caused will be very serious: deformed babies, children with burns from acid rain, and adults dying young from cancer. Second, the policy will affect who will exist in the future because our present practices invade people’s everyday lives, for example by affecting recycling practices in the home; these practices will change if the policy is adopted. Furthermore, whether we adopt the policy will determine which plants are built where, what jobs are available, and what trucks are on the road. These effects will create small differences in everyone’s lives which ultimately affect who meets whom and who conceives with whom, or at least when people conceive. This affects who exists in the future.

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Humphreys, , . Dignity and its violation examined within the context of animal ethics
2016, Ethics and the Environment 21 (2):143-162
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: The word ‘dignity’ may be used in a presentational sense, for example, one might say “she presents herself with dignity”, or in a social sense, for example, one might say “she fulfilled her duty with dignity, or honour.” However, in this paper I will not be using ‘dignity’ in either of these senses. Rather, the sense of dignity I will be concerned with is one that is related to ideas about the value or worth of a being. This latter sense of dignity has a long history, and tends to be a concept that is thought to be applicable to human animals only, and more specifically to human persons—moral agents, capable of rationality, of directing their own lives, and of formulating…

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Humphreys, , . Suffering, Sentientism, and Sustainability: An Analysis of a Non-Anthropocentric Moral Framework for Climate Ethics
2020, Brian G. Henning, Zack Walsh (eds.), Climate Change Ethics and the Non-human World. Routledge Taylor Francis Group, 49-62
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: In the light of the current environmental crisis, different approaches to mitigating climate change have been put forward, some more plausible than others. However, despite problems with anthropocentric approaches to global warming (whether these be weak or strong versions of the approach), it seems that because of the largely anthropocentric outlook of the Western world, an internationally united approach to mitigating climate change will (perhaps inevitably) come from human-centred values. But what are the long-term implications of this? Such values need to be at the very least challenged if we are interested in providing justifiable and sustainable solutions to the current crisis. Indeed, this paper will analyse sentientism as an alternative environmental ethic stance and will discuss why it provides a more plausible approach than anthropocentric ones whilst recognising where it falls short.

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Humphreys, Rebekah , , . Biocentrism
2016, Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics, Springer
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: The orthodox approach to the environment and its inhabitants is deemed to be anthropocentric in that it recognises the moral standing of human beings alone, and as such other beings are given at the most indirect moral consideration when their interests conflict with the interests of humans. However, many global environmental problems and worldwide practices directly affect not just human beings but many other creatures too. In the light of this, the anthropocentric approach has been accused by some philosophers of being too narrowly focused on human interests to creditably account for the true extent of our moral obligations. This article provides a conceptual outline of biocentrism as an alternative approach to ethics; one which widens the moral scope to include all living beings as candidates deserving of moral consideration. The article also discusses how this approach might be applied to contemporary ethical issues which are international in their dimension, including environmental issues, as well as issues concerning our use of animals in worldwide human practices.

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Humphreys, Rebekah , , . The Argument from Existence, Blood-Sports, and ‘Sport-Slaves’
2014, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 27 (2): 331-345
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: The argument from existence is often used as an attempted justification for our use of animals in commercial practices, and is often put forward by lay-persons and philosophers alike. This paper provides an analysis of the argument from existence primarily within the context of blood-sports (applying the argument to the example of game-birding), and in doing so addresses interesting and related issues concerning the distinction between having a life and living, or worthwhile life and mere existence, as well as issues surrounding our responsibilities to prospective and actual beings. However, my analysis of the argument will go beyond the animal ethics context; it is important that it does so in order to reveal the troublesome implications of the argument and to highlight the sorts of unethical practices it supports. In particular, in applying the argument to a relevant example concerning human beings, I will discuss how the argument from existence could be used to justify the ownership of slaves who were reared for slavery. My objective is to show just how problematic the argument from existence is, with the aim of laying the argument to rest once and for all.

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Lawson, Bill E., , . The Value of Environmental Justice
2008, Environmental Justice 1 (3): 155-158.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord, Contributed by:

Abstract: Environmental justice, at least, entails preserving the environment as a global entity, but also making those persons who feel, have felt, have been, or are victims of environmental crimes and atrocities feel as if they are part of the solution as full members of the human community and not just the environmental dumping ground for the well-off.

Comment: This text is a quick introduction to the problem of responsibility for environmental injustices. It makes a good conversation starter for why some individuals do not feel responsible for environmental atrocities, specifically in the context of environmental racism. It would fit well in a class that discussed justice, environmental justice (racism or NIMBY more generally), or collective responsibility.

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Lintott, Sheila, , . Toward Eco-Friendly Aesthetics
2006, Environmental Ethics 28 (1):57-76.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: Environmentalists can make individuals more eco-friendly by dispelling many of the myths and misconceptions about the natural world. By learning what in nature is and is not dangerous, and in what contexts the danger is real, individuals can come to aesthetically appreciate seemingly unappreciable nature. Since aesthetic attraction can be an extremely valuable tool for environmentalists, with potential beyond that of scientific education, the quest for an eco-friendly is neither unnecessary nor redundant. Rather, an eco-friendly aesthetic ought to be pursued in conjunction with other efforts to protect nature

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McShane, Katie, , . Neosentimentalism and Environmental Ethics
2011, Environmental Ethics, 33 (1): 5-23.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord, Contributed by:

Abstract: Neosentimentalism provides environmental ethics with a theory of value that might be particularly useful for solving many of the problems that have plagued the field since its early days. In particular, a neosentimentalist understanding of value offers us hope for making sense of (1) what intrinsic value might be and how we could know whether parts of the natural world have it; (2) the extent to which value is an essentially anthropocentric concept; and (3) how our understanding of value could be compatible with both a respectable naturalism and a robust normativity.

Comment: This reading is could be used well as a response to Rolston or Callicott’s versions of environmental value. The article also covers a number of problems endemic to formal value theory (especially a neosentimentalist theory of the nature of value). It would work best in an upper level undergraduate course on value theory or environmental ethics.

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Midgley, Mary, , . Individualism and the Concept of Gaia
2001, Science and Poetry, chapter 17. Routledge.
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Added by: Anne-Marie McCallion, Contributed by:

Abstract: The idea of Gaia—of life on earth as a self-sustaining natural system—is not a gratuitous, semi-mystical fantasy. It is a really useful idea, a cure for distortions that spoil our current world-view. Its most obvious use is, of course, in suggesting practical solutions to environmental problems. But, more widely, it also attacks deeper tangles which now block our thinking. Some of these are puzzles about the reasons why the fate of our planet should concern us. We are bewildered by the thought that we might have a duty to something so clearly non-human. But more centrally, too, we are puzzled about how we should view ourselves. Current ways of thought still tend to trap us in the narrow, atomistic, seventeenth-century image of social life which grounds today’s crude and arid individualism, though there are currently signs that we are beginning to move away from it. A more realistic view of the earth can give us a more realistic view of ourselves as its inhabitants.

Comment: This is an easy text to read and so would be fine for less experienced philosophers. Midgley argues that Lovelock’s Gaia constitutes a way of seeing the world (or myth) that has important consequences for multiple aspects of our lives (social, political, moral, etc.) by combating the unhelpful individualism she sees as stemming from the social contract myth. Whilst this text is easy to read, there is a lot going on under the surface which arguably conflicts with standard assumptions about philosophical practice (in particular, Midgley’s pluralism and account of myths). As such, it is a great text for bringing these things to the fore and exploring a different view of what philosophy is for. It would be suitable for courses pertaining to environmental ethics, animal ethics or interdisciplinary discussions regarding the environment and ecology.

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Ruether, Rosemary R., , . Symbolic and Social Connections of the Oppression of Women and the Domination of Nature
1999, in Adams, C. J. (eds), Ecofeminism and the sacred, New York: Continuum.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Comment: This text offers an introduction to ecofeminism. It discusses the history of associating maleness with culture and femaleness with nature and identifies some of the issues which led to the current ecological crisis. The text has the potential to challenge received views and inspire a lively discussion, and as such it is best used as an introductory text in classes on environmental ethics and on feminist ethics.

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Sarkar, Sahotra, , . Environmental Philosophy: From Theory to Practice
2012, Wiley-Blackwell.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Rose Trappes

Publisher’s Note: The first comprehensive treatment of environmental philosophy, going beyond ethics to address the philosophical concepts that underlie environmental thinking and policy-making today

  • Encompasses all of environmental philosophy, including conservation biology, restoration ecology, sustainability, environmental justice, and more
  • Offers the first treatment of decision theory in an environmental philosophy text
  • Explores the conceptions of nature and ethical presuppositions that underlie contemporary environmental debates, and, moving from theory to practice, shows how decision theory translates to public policy
  • Addresses both hot-button issues, including population and immigration reform, and such ongoing issues as historical legacies and nations’ responsibility and obligation for environmental problems
  • Anchors philosophical concepts to their practical applications, establishing the priority of the discipline’s real-world importance

Comment: This book provides a clear and comprehensive introduction to major philosophical issues in environmental science, ethics and policy. There are handy ‘boxes’ with examples to illustrate the text. Chapters are fairly short and can be a bit dense, but they are good as overviews of the major issues when paired with related but more specific texts. It’s also sensitive to indigenous and racial issues when it comes to conservation.

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Schrader-Frechette, Kristin, , . Individualism, Holism, and Environmental Ethics
1996, Ethics and the Environment, 1 (1): 55-69.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord, Contributed by:

Abstract: Neoclassical economists have been telling us for years that if we behave in egoistic, individualistic ways, the invisible hand of the market will guide us to efficient and sustainable futures. Many contemporary Greens also have been assuring us that if we behave in holistic ways, the invisible hand of ecology will guide us to health and sustainable futures. This essay argues that neither individualism nor holism will provide environmental sustainability. There is no invisible hand, either in economics or in ecology. Humans have no guaranteed tenure in the biosphere. Likewise there is no philosophical quick fix for environmental problems, either through the ethical individualism of Feinberg, Frankena, and Regan, or through the ecological holism of Callicott and Leopold. The correct path is more complex and tortuous than either of these ways. The essay argues that the best way to reach a sustainable environmental future probably is through a middle path best described as “hierarchical holism.”.

Comment: This text intervenes in the debate over holism and individualism in environmental ethics–specifically, as it concerns questions of environmental protection and conservation. It would fit well in a course on environmental ethics that discusses questions of either the metaphysics of nature or the nature of value.

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Sterrett, Susan G., , . The morals of model-making
2014, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 26: 31- 45.
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Added by: Helen Morley, Contributed by:

Abstract: I address questions about values in model-making in engineering, specifically: Might the role of values be attributable solely to interests involved in specifying and using the model? Selected examples illustrate the surprisingly wide variety of things one must take into account in the model-making itself. The notions of system , and physically similar systems are important and powerful in determining what is relevant to an engineering model. Another example illustrates how an idea to completely re-characterize, or reframe, an engineering problem arose during model-making.I employ a qualitative analogue of the notion of physically similar systems. Historical cases can thus be drawn upon; I illustrate with a comparison between a geoengineering proposal to inject, or spray, sulfate aerosols, and two different historical cases involving the spraying of DDT . The current geoengineering proposal is seen to be like the disastrous and counterproductive case, and unlike the successful case, of the spraying of DDT. I conclude by explaining my view that model-making in science is analogous to moral perception in action, drawing on a view in moral theory that has come to be called moral particularism.

Comment: Further reading, particulary in relation to geoengineering responses to climate change. Also of interest in relation to engineering & technology ethics.

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Telfer, Elizabeth, , . Food for Thought: Philosophy and Food
1996, New York: Routledge.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord, Contributed by:

Summary: The importance of food in our individual lives raises moral questions from the debate over eating animals to the prominence of gourmet cookery in the popular media. Through philosophy, Elizabeth Telfer discusses issues including our obligations to those who are starving; the value of the pleasure of food; food as art; our duties to animals; and the moral virtues of hospitableness and temperance. Elizabeth Telfer shows how much traditional philosophy, from Plato to John Stuart Mill, has to say to illuminate this everyday yet complex subject.

Comment: This book could serve as a main text for a course on an introductory course on ethical aspects of food, eating, and food distribution. Some chapters may also be of use in other sorts of courses: there are chapters on hunger and starvation (for a course that considers poverty), food as art (for a course concerning aesthetics or taste), and food and hospitality (for a course concerning hospitality, friendship, or entertaining).

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