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Do we need environmental ethics?

Summary:
From Malgorzata Dereniowska Environmental ethics is a field of applied ethics concerned with the ethical dimension of human relationship towards nature. The term environmental ethics covers a variety of approaches that can be roughly divided into two camps: anthropocentrism and non-anthropocentrism. Anthropocentrism refers to a human-centered approach to environmental problems that protects nature for humans. Radical anthropocentrism is often equated with the view that only human beings have intrinsic value, and sees nature as having only instrumental value. Non-anthropocentrism encompasses a variety of approaches connected by the belief that nonhuman entities also have value that is not reducible to anthropocentric interests. It often questions the propriety of human interests and

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from Malgorzata Dereniowska

Environmental ethics is a field of applied ethics concerned with the ethical dimension of human relationship towards nature. The term environmental ethics covers a variety of approaches that can be roughly divided into two camps: anthropocentrism and non-anthropocentrism. Anthropocentrism refers to a human-centered approach to environmental problems that protects nature for humans. Radical anthropocentrism is often equated with the view that only human beings have intrinsic value, and sees nature as having only instrumental value. Non-anthropocentrism encompasses a variety of approaches connected by the belief that nonhuman entities also have value that is not reducible to anthropocentric interests. It often questions the propriety of human interests and preferences as a sufficient basis for environmental decision-making (Routley 1973). Environmental ethics is inherently pluralistic, representing a wide variety of socio-environmental values and beliefs. Its overarching goal is to prompt change in collective practices and individual behaviours.

Environmental ethics developed as a separate field of enquiry and action in response to the fact that ecological crisis is driven by human activities (Attfield 2017). Even though it is difficult to predict the scope and speed of environmental change—such as biodiversity loss, pollution, and climate change—the scientific community rests on consensus that contemporary environmental problems are humanly induced (see Gardiner 2010 in relation to climate change). This recognition led to problematising the human-environment relationship in ethical terms, and looking at environmental problems as moral ones. read more

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