The University of Georgia, Department of Philosophy, Ethics and the Environment
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Ethics & the Environment, Volume 5, Number 2, Fall 2000


A Prudential Argument for Precaution under Uncertainty and High Risk
Stephen Haller

Some models of global systems are predicting catastrophe, if certain human activities continue. Unfortunately, these models are less than certain. Despite this uncertainty, some argue for precaution on the grounds that we have an ethical obligation to avoid catastrophe, whatever the practical costs. There is much to say in favor of ethical arguments. Still, some people will remain unmoved by them. Using arguments parallel to those of Pascal and James, I will argue that there are prudential reasons for precaution that should convince those not already persuaded by ethical arguments. This argument for precaution does not presuppose that we are convinced by the uncertain models that predict catastrophe.
Biotechnology, the Limits of Norton's convergence Hypothesis, and Implications for an Inclusive Concept of Health
Marc Saner

Bryan Norton proposes a 'convergence hypothesis' stating that anthropocentrists and nonanthropocentrists can arrive at common environmental policy goals if certain constraints are applied. Within his theory he does not, however, address the consideration of nonconsequentualist issues and, therefore, does not provide an argument for the convergence between consequentualist and nonconsequentualist ethical positions. In the case of biotechnology, nonconsequentualist issues can dominate the debate in both the fields of environmental ethics and bioethics. I argue that, (1) the convergence hypothesis must be rejected when tested against the case of biotechnology and (2) this limitation of convergence applies to any theory of reconciliation within the 'health' concept because the achievement and preservation of 'health' emphasizes a consequentualist outlook. I conclude that an inclusive ethics for ecosystem and human health should be explicit about this limitation.
Biocentrism and Human Health
James P. Sterba

Biocentrists endorse the equality of species. But is endorsing the equality of species compatible with maintaining the health of humans, or should at least sometimes the health of humans be sacrificed for the sake of other species? In this paper, I will argue for the compatibility of biocentrism and human health. I will argue that maintaining the equality of species, correctly understood, is in no way in conflict with maintaining human health. In fact, I will argue that there is mutually supporting relationship between the requirements of biocentrism and the requirements for human health.

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