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Ethics & the Environment, Volume 1, Number 2, Fall 1996

ABSTRACTS

TheDusty World: Wildness and Higher Laws in Thoreau's WALDEN
Jim Cheney

To the attentive reader, the high contrast between Thoreau's depiction of a life in conformity to "Higher Laws" and his depiction of Wildness can seem to be yet another endorsement of nature/culture dualism. I argue that while such a dualism frames much of Thoreau's "experiment" at Walden Pond, a deeper understanding of the relationship between Higher Laws and Wildness emerges which is decidedly nondualistic, an understanding for which I invoke the Buddhist image of the Dusty World. I conclude with some reflections on Val Plumwood's recent work on the nature/culture dualism at work in current discussions about wilderness.
Anthropomorphism without Anthropocentrism: A Wittgensteinian Ecofeminist Alternative to Deep Ecology
Wendy Lee-Lampshire

While articulating a philosophy of ecology which reconciles deep ecology with ecofeminism may be a laudable project, it remains at best unclear whether this attempt will be successful. I argue that one recent attempt, Carol Bigwood's feminized deep ecology, fails in that, despite disclaimers, it reproduces important elements of some deep ecologists' essentializing discourse which ecofeminists argue are responsible for the identification with and dual oppression of women and nature. I then propose an alternative model for conceiving and describing human and nonhuman nature modeled on Wittgenstein's remarks concerning anthropomorphizing which I argue is immune to this criticism.
Holists and Fascists and Paper Tigers...Oh My!
Michael P. Nelson

Over and over, philosophers have claimed that environmental holism in general, and Leopold's Land Ethic in particular, ought to be rejected on the basis that it has fascistic implications. I argue that the Land Ethic is not tantamount to environmental fascism because Leopold's moral theory accounts for the moral standing of the individual as well as "the land," a holistic ethic better protects and defends the individual in the long-run, and the term "fascism" is misapplied in this case.
Androcentrism and Anthrocentrism: Parallels and Politics
Val Plumwood

The critique of anthrocentrism has been one on the major tasks of ecophilosophy, whose characteristic general thesis has been that our frameworks of morality and rationality must be challenged to include consideration of nonhumans. But the core of anthrocentrism is embattled and its relationship to practical environmental activism is problematic. I shall argue here that although the criticisms that have been made of the core concept have some justice, the primary problem is not the framework challenge or the core concept itself, but rather certain problematic understandings of it which have developed in environmental philosophy. In the case of the intrinsic/instrumental distinction, much of the criticism turns on unrealistic expectations about what the distinction means and what it can do; in the case of anthropocentrism, a perverse reading which I will call cosmic anthrocentrism has invited many of the criticisms which have been widely seen as fatal to the concept. Using concepts and models originating in feminist theory and other liberation critiques, I outline an alternative, feminist rereading of anthrocentrism. I argue that this model is theoretically illuminating and capable of meeting major objections that the perverse readings have invited. Critics of the core distinctions have almost universally identified the two core concepts and issues of anthrocentrism and instrumental/intrinsic value. The analysis I present will show how these concepts and issues are connected, but also why there is more to anthrocentrism than the failure to recognise the intrinsic value of nature, and why anthrocentrism rather than intrinsic value should be the major conceptual focus of environmental critique. It will also show why the framework challenge is of practical importance to the green movement and why anthrocentrism is a serious problem in contemporary life.
Markets, Justice, and the Interests of Future Generations
Clark Wolf

This paper considers the extent to which market institutions respond to the needs and morally significant interests of future generations. Such an analysis of the intertemporal effects of markets provides important ground for evaluation of normative social theories, and represents a crucial step toward the development of an adequate account of intergenerational justice. After presenting a prima facie case that markets cannot provide appropriate protections for future needs and interests, I evaluate and reject two of the most promising arguments that purport to rebut this case. None of these arguments is adequate to show that markets will protect the interests of future generations. Given important grounds for pessimism about nonmarket solutions, this leave little room for hope that we can successfully preserve productive resources that future generations will need to satisfy their basic needs. However, I tentatively suggest where this hope may reside.
Realism,Bioethics: Biocentric or Anthropocentric?
Van Rensselaer Potter

Environmental ethics is done by philosophers operating within the strict canons of the discipline. Environmental ethics has been pursued as the traditional ethics of pure reason. Real bioethics is not pure, traditional, reasoning ethics. Real bioethics is done by realistic scientists and concerned biologists and physicians who have an intuition to help build a "Bridge to the Future," whether or not their effort is labeled "bioethics." Among this cohort is Physicians for Social Responsibility and the editors of their new Journal, Medicine and Global Survival. These people are not professional ethicists. As realists they see the survival and well-being of the human species as a matter of organizational morrality--a civic society directed to the "common good" worldwide, as soon as possible, and with a long-range perspective. Real bioethics is not merely biocentric or merely anthropocentric. Instead, real bioethics calls for an idealistic mix of biocentrism and the kind of humanism that is concerned with the needs, interests, and welfare of human beings, or, in other words, an enlightened or realistic anthropocentrism that acknowledges the central role of the biosphere in the continued existence and "common good" of the human species, as previously discussed in connection with global bioethics, a subject foreign to environmental ethicists. From any point of view, real bioethics falls in the context of the ideals of two Wisconsin professors who lived in the early part of the twentieth century, Aldo Leopold and Max Otto, as will be discussed later.
Ferré, Organicistic Connectedness -- But Still Speciesistic
Arthur Zucker

An environmental ethics open to the charge of speciesism would be a weak environmental ethics at best. Ferré criticizes the environmental ethics of Callicott and Rolston, presenting his version of an environmental ethics; one he refers to an organicistic. His version does indeed avoid the pitfalls of the environmental ethics of Callicott and Rolston. But, as I show, the charge of speciesism can be leveled against Ferré (and many others). I suggest that properly understood speciesism is so deeply rooted in our concepts that the only hope lies in what I term a thoughtful speciesism.

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