Why Does Environmental Ethics Matter? Environmental Ethics Essay

1969 words - 8 pages

Why Environmental Ethics Matter?
Introduction
The Lorax by Dr Seuss, published in 1971, is a children’s story that illustrates the ethical tensions of humans’ lack of regard and respect for the environment when capitalist gains can be made at its expense. In the story, the Lorax defends the ‘Truffula Trees’ against the capitalists using them for the production of ‘Thneed ‘for needs’ the ‘Once-Ler’ (the capitalists) as he says, “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees, I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues” (Kopina 2012). Environmental philosophers agree that the environment should be observed from an ethical perspective, that is, ethics must be considered in the ways in which we perceive, interact with and use the environments (Hens & Susanne 1998). Environmental ethics is defined as “the discipline in philosophy that studies the moral relationship of human beings to, and also the value and moral status of, the environment and its non-human contents.”(Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy 2002). This paper answers the question ‘why does environmental ethics matter?’ It argues that environment ethics is critical to human survival and to the future of the Earth. The way we interact with the environment has direct consequences for ourselves and other living beings. Other points challenge the theories of human morals and values and the limits of environmental ethics. In order to back up these arguments, case studies of the crisis of Murray Darling and palm oil production in Indonesia will be referenced.
Our effect on the environment
Environmental ethics are important because everything that we do to the environment has an effect on us and others. Environmental scientists and ethicists argue that understanding and perceiving the environment is heavily influenced by environmental actions and values (Hens & Susanne 1998). However, environmental philosophers disagree with how environmental ethics can be achieved and the ways to achieve them. As the species with the greatest influence on the natural world, the onus falls on us to responsibly manage our interactions with the environment. People’s action towards the environment can have a positive or a negative impact.
Even though it is widely accepted that environmental ethics are important, there is no single ethical approach to the environment. Rather, there are multiple approaches that can be taken into environmental ethics that fall broadly into the categories of anthropocentrism, ecocentrism and deep ecology
Anthropocentrism
Environmental ethics is a way to express people’s moral responsibilities to the environment. Looking at environmental ethics, human values become a factor. Human values are about individuals determining values for certain beliefs and using these values for choices that either could be right or wrong. Using strong ethical values should be approach to other living beings (Hens & Susanne 1998). This in contrast to anthropocentrism, which is...

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