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Ethics & the Environment, Volume 2, Number 2, Fall 1997

ABSTRACTS

Environmental Values and Environmental Law in New Zealand
Alastair S. Gunn and Carolyn McCallig

We examine the relation between environmental ethics and environmental law, focusing on the New Zealand resource Management Act 1991. This is a comprehensive and philosophical grounded statute that was the first of its kind in the world. we analyze key concepts in the law including sustainability, resources, stewardship, natural character, and intrinsic law, which we try to resolve from a "weak anthropocentric" position.
Affluence, Poverty, and Ecology: Obligation, International Relations, and Sustainable Development
Paul G. Harris

Effective efforts to protect the global environment will require the willing cooperation of the world's poor. Persuading them to join international environmental agreements and to choose environmentally sustainable development requires substantial concessions from the affluent industrialized countries, including additional financial assistance and technology transfers. The affluent countries ought to provide such assistance to the world's poor for ethical reasons. Doing so would promote transnational distributive justice, which is defined here as a fair and equitable distribution among countries of benefits, burdens and decision making authority, in this case associated with transnational environmental relations. Conceptions of distributive justice examined include utilitarianism, human rights, causality/responsibility, impartiality, and principles derived from Kantian and Rawlsian ethics.
Gleaning Lessons from Deep Ecology
David Keller

By reflecting on Deep Ecology, several lessons can be culled for environmental philosophy in general. The Deep Ecology of Arne Naess, Bill Devall, and George Sessions is appropriately characterized as a theory founded on the principles of biocentric egalitarianism and metaphysical holism. After considering each of these principles in turn, and then in relation to each other, the lesson turns out to be that the ontological foundation for environmental ethics must be nonegalitarian and polycentric.
Prospecting for Ecological Gold amongst the Platonic Forms: A Response to Timothy Mahoney
Val Plumwood

Timothy Mahoney discovers and champions an ecologically benign account of Plato in opposition to my own critical analysis of the reason-centeredness, reason-nature dualism, and nature and body devaluation in the Platonic dialogues, in which multiple linked dualism of reason and nature associated with systems of oppression provide major organizing principles for Platonic philosophy. I show first that Mahoney's criticisms of my interpretation involve some careless and mistaken readings of my own text. Second, I argue that Mahoney's account of nature is significantly different from Plato's, and that his interpretation of Plato is an overly generous and idealized one which plays on the multiplicity and elasticity of the concept of nature and the notorious vagueness of the concept of participation to conflate, among other things, Plato's attitude to celestial nature with his attitude to biological nature. Mahoney's interpretation involves setting aside the issue of Plato's most offensive and revealing passages of earth disparagement, ignoring the network of social meanings from which Plato's philosophy emerges. Finally, I give some reasons why Mahoney's accounts of participation and nature, even considered as a reworking of Plato, would be highly problematic as the foundation for an ecological philosophy.
Marxism and Animal Rights
David Sztybel

There is no doubt that Marx and Engels rejected animal rights. However, they did embrace the communist principle, "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his need." Furthermore, they acknowledge that nonhuman animals have needs. So the principle can enjoin us to respect animals' needs, even if they lack certain abilities (e.g., tool-making, perhaps even self-consciousness). I argue that it is essentially speciesist to restrict this principle to human beings, and that its acceptance implies either animal rights or a substantive equivalent. Marxism may have to undergo a profound dialectical transformation in light of the implications of its own maxim.
A Vegetarian Critique of Deep and Social Ecology
David Waller

For all their antagonism, deep and social ecology do share at least this much: a lack of interest in the issues of animal rights, animal welfare, and vegetarianism. I argue that this disinterest is inconsistent with deep and social ecology's practical programs and philosophical foundations. Furthermore, while they ignore the animals' case for special moral recognition, both schools nevertheless exploit our special feelings (pro and con) toward animals in order to advance their own agendas concerning nature.

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