Traditional ethical theory has focused on the morality of human action directed towards other living humans. The impact of humans on other humans via the environment has not been addressed until recently, partly because of an assumption of a nature so plentiful and abundant that humans could not harm other humans through the environment. The problem of how humans are to act towards non-humans (or towards future humans) has been either ignored or left for later development of a theory that is often never accomplished. Recent concern over human impact on the environment has led to a surge of interest in the development of ethical positions that encompass more than direct human-human interaction. The work being done in this area often challenges the traditional ethical theories and calls for a reexamination of basic issues such as what are rights and what are morally significant beings. This course will provide an overview of the recent development of environmental ethical theory, highlighting the tensions between various approaches. The challenge these approaches pose to traditional theory, the tensions between different approaches, and what the various approaches call on us to do, will be discussed.
Instructor: Heather Douglas
Other Relevant Majors: Fisheries and Wildlife, Animal Studies
Possible Texts: Environmental Ethics from the Roots Up: An Introductory Anthology (First Edition) By Heather Douglas