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Ethics & the Environment, Volume 3, Number 2, Fall 1998

ABSTRACTS

FUTURE GENERATIONS, NATURAL RESOURCES, AND PROPERTY RIGHTS
Gillian Brock

In an important recent article, "Contemporary Property Rights, Lockean Provisos, and the Interests of Future Generations," Clark Wolf argues that sometimes the interests of future generations should take precedence over the claims of current property rights holders. Wolf's arguments concentrate on the genesis and nature of defensible property rights in various natural resources, and on the conditions under which morally unacceptable harm is caused to others.
In this paper I explore two central sets of issues. First, I investigate how the argument holds up when labor is involved in discovering, developing or preparing natural resources for appropriation. I consider some persuasive reasons why one might think Wolf's arguments lose force in such cases. I also indicate how to accommodate these concerns without diminishing the force of Wolf's main arguments. Second, I show how either the examples Wolf uses do not support the conclusion he is pressing, or the argument has extremely far-reaching implications. I argue that either of these conclusions is problematic for Wolf's argument as thus far developed.
KANTIAN ETHICS AND ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ARGUMENT: AUTONOMY, ECOSYSTEM INTEGRITY, AND OUR DUTIES TO NATURE
John Martin Gillroy

In this essay I will argue that, preconceptions notwithstanding, Immanuel Kant does have an environmental ethics which uniquely contributes to two current debates in the field. First, he transcends the controversy between individualistic and holistic approaches to nature with a theory that considers humanity in terms of the autonomy of moral individuals and nature in terms of the integrity of functional wholes.
Second, he diminishes the gulf between Conservationism and Preservationism. He does this by constructing an ideal-regarding conception of the former that values nature not as "merely" a thing to be used by human preferences and translated by markets, but as an essential component and prerequisite to the intrinsic autonomy of human beings. Simultaneously, he argues for a definition of preservation which places responsibility on humanity to harmonize moral agency with the functional integrity of natural systems. Here humanity and nature become the two unique and equally important components of what we might call the greater "Kantian ecosystem."
In addition to the theoretical contributions of Kant's approach to our appreciation of the duties we owe to our natural environment, I will also suggest that Kantian Conservationism and Kantian Preservationism provide a sound moral basis for public policy arguments that wish to take the intrinsic value of humanity and nature into account. By requiring decision makers to consider citizens as ethical ends and nature as a functional end-in-itself, public choice becomes a process of restricting the use of the "kingdom of nature" to the essential requirements of "kingdom of ends."
ON THE MORAL SIGNIFICANCE OF A HUNTING ETHIC
Charles J. List

This paper challenges the claim made by critics and some defenders of hunting, that any ethical code hunters chose to follow is irrelevant to the issue of the morality of hunting. My case is made by (1) constructing a hunting code which meets certain prominent objections to their moral significance, (2) conceptually tying this code to an environmental ethic--Leopold's land ethic, and (3) tying the land ethic to a traditional moral theory--Aristotelian virtue ethics. So, the constructed code is morally significant because it is consistent with and made intelligible by a standard moral theory.
ETHICAL THEORY VERSUS UNETHICAL PRACTICE: RADIATION PROTECTION AND FUTURE GENERATIONS
Kristin Shrader-Frechette

The main international standard-setting agencies for ionizing radiation, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) both subscribe to principles which (they claim) lead to equitable protection for all generations exposed to radioactive pollution. Yet, when one examines the practices both groups support, it is clear that these practices discriminate against future generations with respect to radioactive pollution. After showing (1) that the IAEA and ICRP rhetoric of equity does not match their policies and practices, the essay argues (2) that current people ought to try to treat members of future generations equitably with respect to protection from radioactive pollution. The essay also argues (3) that current policies of permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste do not meet the second criterion, and therefore (4) that society ought to investigate whether another strategy for managing the waste would provide better equal protection among all generations.

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