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Ethics & the Environment, Volume 16, Number 1, Spring 2011

ABSTRACTS

Environmental Pragmatism, Adaptive Management, and Cultural Reform
Willis Jenkins

In defending a problem-based strategy of ethics against cosmological strategies, environmental pragmatists have presented ecological management as a model of adaptive social learning. However, management frameworks appear incapable of critiquing and changing moral culture in the ways that seem necessary for confronting difficult sustainability problems. I show how a problem-based approach to sustainability challenges can create a productive relation between science-based management programs and cultural reform processes, if it admits roles for ontological arguments and attends to minority moral communities. In order to respond to the sustainability crises, ecological managers must become skilled participants in moral culture, facilitating the inventiveness of agents who can make moral inheritances support new strategies of action.
Ethical Response to Climate Change
Dennis Patrick O'Hara and Alan Abelson

The attitudes that have contributed to climate change are the same attitudes that are retarding an adequate ethical response to that crisis. With a growing understanding of the planet as a self-contained and evolving ecosystem, we realize that we are derivative from and inescapably dependent upon Earth’s ecological systems, that it is not possible to have healthy humans on a sick planet. Putting the health of the planet in peril endangers our own survival. While this new awareness encourages a less anthropocentric and more Earth-friendly human culture, vestiges of the thinking that created climate change continue to guide most of our responses to this global problem. This paper will consider ethical principles that might guide effective responses to climate change as well as certain responses to that crisis that are either misguided or inadequate.
Interspecies Etiquette in Place: Ethical Affordances in Swim-With-Dolphins Programs
Traci Warkentin

Situated in the liminal spaces where marine and terrestrial worlds come together to form swim-with-dolphin programs, this paper examines impacts of place upon human-dolphin interactions. Motivated by a strong desire to get close to a dolphin, many people seek out opportunities to “swim with dolphins,” but what is the nature of these programs and how are they actually experienced by participants? If people are seeking genuine contact with a dolphin, does context make a significant difference? Moreover, can and do swim-with-dolphin programs afford ethical ways of interacting with dolphins? These questions are addressed through examining three representative swim-with-dolphin programs. Comparative analysis further illustrates how place is vital to engagements of interspecies etiquette.
Invasive Species and the Loss of Beta Diversity
Sarah Wright

Why should we avoid introducing invasive species? In this paper I argue that in addition to the more ordinary and visible types of harm that invasive species cause, they also cause a reduction in a particular kind of biodiversity—that of beta diversity. Rather than simply measuring the number of species found in a particular region, beta diversity measures the differences in the species found between regions. This difference between regions can be measured by comparing neighboring regions (local beta diversity) or by comparing distant regions (global beta diversity). Both types of beta diversity are reduced by the introduction of invasive species. I further argue that beta diversity is an important part of our concept of biodiversity and of what we value about the natural world. Thus the tendency of invasive species to reduce beta diversity gives us a substantial reason to avoid introducing them.
Taming Growth and Articulating a Sustainable Future: The Way Forward for Environmental Ethics
Philip Cafaro

The overarching goal of environmentalism as a political movement is the creation of sustainable societies that share resources fairly among people, and among people and other species. The core objectives of environmental philosophy should include articulating the ideals and principles of such just and generous sustainability, arguing for them among academics and in the public sphere, and working out their implications in particular areas of our environmental decision-making. That means challenging the goodness of endless economic growth and helping other environmental thinkers specify plausible and appealing alternatives to the economic status quo. It means ending our craven failure to honestly address population issues. It means committing to living according to our own environmental ideals. Interestingly, the mainstream philosophical tradition has some important, underutilized resources that, combined with new and creative thinking, can help us achieve these goals and keep ethical philosophy relevant to meeting the challenges of the 21st century.

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