Professor Jayashree SadriAndDr Sorab SadriENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS
Environmental ethics is the part ofenvironmental philosophy whichconsiders extending the traditionalboundaries of ethics from solelyincluding humans to including the non-human world.What is EnvironmentalEthics?
For example:It exerts influence on a large range ofdisciplines including law, sociology,theology, economics, ecology andgeography.There are many ethical decisions thathuman beings make with respect to theenvironment.
For example:Should we continue to clear cut forestsfor the sake of human consumption?Should we continue to propagate?Should we continue to make gasolinepowered vehicles?When will this thirst for exploitation andprofit end?Why this “conspicuous consumption?”
For example:What environmental obligations do we need tokeep for future generations?[Is it right for humansto knowingly cause the extinction of a species forthe convenience of humanity?Is “false consciousness” combining with“conspicuous consumption”?Why do governments across the world fail to “walktheir talk”?
HUNTING INDISCRIMINATELYExtinction of the White Rhino (Assam) for aphrodisiacSlaughter of the Black Rhino (Central Africa) foraphrodisiacDisappearance of the White Tigers (Reva) for stupidityThe Indian Lion (Gir) and the Royal Bengal Tiger beingkilled because the Government has no will to act.Slaughter of the Seals (Antarctica) for food and oilWhale hunting (Japanese waters and China Sea) for foodFox hunting (Mark Twain’s quip on British sport)Himalayan Deer (for Kasturi)Grizzly Bear hunting (Canada – human-animal turf war)
Can Humans Live In Harmony With Nature?
Some DefinitionsMoral AgentsThose who have the freedomand rational capacity to beresponsible for choicesThose capable of moralreflection and decision.Example: adult humans ofsound mindInfants and mentally infirm adultsare NOT moral agents
DefinitionsMoral Standing:If you have moral standing:Your continued existence orwelfare is valuable in itself(intrinsic value)Your interests and well-being mustbe weighed when deciding what ispermissible to do.Example: humans of all kinds Babies, children, adults, oldpeople, etc. Women, different races, differentcultures
DefinitionsMoral Duties That which is owed by moralagents to those with moralstanding.Example: It is wrong to killour children because we have amoral duty toward them
Philosophical IssueWho or what has moralstanding, and why?Does the environment havemoral standing?Must look at criteria formoral standingWhat moral duty do we(moral agents) havetoward those with moralstanding?Different ethical positionssuggest different moralduties.Yosemite National Park
Ideas on Criteria for MoralStandingMembership in the speciesHomo sapiens Humans have a soul Humans are moral agentsand are responsible for knowingright from wrong Humans are intelligent Humans have personhoodand self-consciousness Humans have language
Ideas on Criteria for MoralStandingSentience, the abilityto feel painTherefore extendmoral standing toanimals.On the evolutionarychain as well as in thefood chain we are alllinked anyway.
Ideas on Criteria for MoralStandingBeing aliveTherefore extendmoral standing toanimals and plants:All living things.Take this understanding asyour contribution toPlant Earth for all thethings you have got fromit.
Ideas on Criteria for MoralStandingBeing part of natureTherefore extend moralstanding to theearthecosystems rocks rivers plants animalsthe entire natural world
Ethical PositionsAnthropocentrism:Human centeredmoralityOnly humans haveintrinsic value andmoral standing.The rest of the naturalworld has instrumentalvalue (use to humans).
AnthropocentrismWe can best protect natureby looking out for humanneeds.Ex: Ducks Unlimitedpreserves wetlandsEx: Saving therainforests will provideO2 and medicines forhumans.Problem: Would you blow upthe world if you were the lasthuman alive?
Ethical PositionsSentio-centrism: Sentient-beingcentered moralityAll and only sentient beings(animals that feel pain) haveintrinsic value and moralstanding.The rest of the natural world hasinstrumental value.Both humans and sentientanimals have rights and/orinterests that must beconsidered
Ethical PositionsBiocentric Individualism:Life-centered moralityAll and only living beings,specifically individual organisms(not species or ecosystems) haveintrinsic value and moralstanding.Humans are not superior to otherlife forms nor privileged, andmust respect the inherent worthof every organismHumans should minimize harmand interference with nature: eatvegetarian since less land needs tobe cultivated.
Ethical PositionsEco-centric Holism: ecosystemcentered moralityNon-individuals (the earth as aninterconnected ecosystem, species,natural processes) have moralstanding or intrinsic value and aredeserving of respect.Individuals must be concerned aboutthe whole community of life/nature,Humans should strive to preserveecological balance and stability.
Patriarchal DualismsGreek, Roman, Hebrew:Humans are separate from and superior to natureHuman, mind, rationality, and man are linked and superiorNature, body, feelings, and woman are linked, and inferiorJustifies domination by men over Nature WomenAristotle
EcofeminismRejects Patriarchal DualismsThe domination of nature by men is wrong is similar to and related to the domination ofwomen by men.Must break the pattern of "power over"relationships will benefit both women and the naturalworld.Acid attack victims
What Price Male Chauvinism?What or who gave males the moral authority toworship a woman in a temple or a church only todefile and denigrate her at home?Do you realize that the dowry system puts up a manas a mere commodity for sale to the highest womanbidder?Honour killings are nothing but an outburst of malemental impotency and false social sanction.
Deep EcologyHumans are deeplyconnected with nature.If humans identify withnature, then taking care ofthe natural world willbecome part of taking careof ones self.Yet human beings destroynature and its bountifulgifts for short term andpecuniary gain.
Chief Sitting Bull, 1877“Behold, my brothers, the springhas come; the earth has receivedthe embraces of the sun and weshall soon see the results of thatlove!Every seed has awakened and sohas all animal life.It is through this mysteriouspower that we too have ourbeing and we therefore yield toour neighbors, even our animalneighbors, the same right asourselves, to inhabit this land…
Chief Sitting Bull, 1877“Yet hear me, my people, wehave now to deal with anotherrace - small and feeble whenour fathers first met them, butnow great and overbearing.Strangely enough they have amind to till the soil and the loveof possessions is a disease withthem . . ..
Sitting Bull, 1877“They claim this mother of ours,the earth, for their own, andfence their neighbors away;they deface her with theirbuildings and their refuse.They threaten to take [the land]away from us.My brothers, shall we submit, orshall we say to them:"First kill me before you takepossession of my Fatherland."
BioregionalismLead a simple life withlocal production of foodand other products bypeople that you knowIncreases environmentalawareness and caringdecreases exploitation ofthe environment andpeople.
RealitiesWe owe it to future generations to preserve MotherEarth since we hold it in trust for our children.The rate at which flora and fauna are disappearing isscandalous.Global warming is a great fear that we cannotoverlook
TRY TO SEE WHAT LIES BEHINDSunderlal Bahaguna and the ChipkoMovementThe Chilka Lake controversyThe Netarhat Firing Range scandalThe Narbada Bachao AndolanThe Clean Ganga MovementKoel Karo Project