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Ethics & the Environment, Volume 2, Number 1, Spring 1997

ABSTRACTS

Ethical Obligations Toward Insect Pests
Michael L. Draney

This paper examines the implications of considering the values and rights ofinsect pests in determining which insect control efforts to pursue. This consideration will depend on the scale of the control effort, that is, whether the control operates at the level of individual pest organisms, populations, or the entire pest species. I argue that an individual organism's rights cannot be taken into account in planning insect control, because of the practical impossibility of granting it anything but infinitesimal moral significance. However, in harming populations of insects, numbers become important and effects on local ecosystems should be considered. Given this, it still may be right to control or even eliminate a population if its negative value to humans is sufficiently high in relation to its ecological value. Eradication of a species involves irrevocable loss. I propose that species are unique individual entities (as opposed to abstract classes of organisms) and that our ethical obligations to insect pests lie in acknowledging the right of these species to continued, if controlled, existence. At this level, they must receive moral consideration in any actions taken.
Platonic Ecology: A Response to Plumwood's Critique of Plato
Timothy A. Mahoney

This is a response to Val Plumwood's critique of Plato and an overview of the way in which Plato provides a viable environmental vision. This vision sees the realm of nature as rooted in the realm of logos, and human beings as sojourners who are nonetheless integral parts of nature whose vocation is to act mediators between the realms thereby bringing nature into even greater participation in logos. To fulfill the human vocation one must come to an awareness of the logos by purging oneself of the sham values which permeate society and distort one's understanding of reality.
Animal Experimentation in Psychology and the Question of Scientific Merit
Denise Russell

Nonhuman animals are widely used in psychological research and the level of suffering and death is high. This is usually said to be justified by appealing to the scientific merit of the research. This article looks at notions of scientific merit, queries whether they are as clear-cut as commonly supposed,and argues that with contemporary conceptions it is too easy for any research to count as meritorious. A tightening of the notion of scientific merit is suggested, providing a ground for rejection of certain psychological research.
Why We Love the Land
Paul Schollmeier

Philosophers today recognize that we love the land, but they do not explain satisfactorily why we do. Holmes Rolston, for example, argues that we find values in nature, but he does not explain why we love them. J. Baird Callicott explains why we love nature, but he does not argue that it has values in itself. I want to suggest that we feel love for the land because it is itself lovable. I agree with Rolston that an ecosystem has properties which are intrinsically valuable and inherent, but I wish to explain why we feel love for these properties. My approach rests on Aristotle's conception of friendship and its object. I argue that much as we love our friends for their sakes, so too we can love ecosystems for their sakes. A friend and an ecosystem can have qualities which are of a similar sort and make them both lovable. And, as we take a mental pleasure in seeing a friend fare well, so too we may take a mental pleasure in seeing an ecosystem function well.

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