The world has over the last few years been witnessing a remarkable rise in awareness in philosophical ideologies that are geared towards the environment. A number of theories such as animal rights, eco-feminism, deep ecology, bio-centric ethics and other theories have been proposed with the main aim of providing value to the environment. Environmental philosophies have helped in exploring various causes of environmental destruction and the proposals they put across that would help to reverse the trend of destruction and restore the environment to an acceptable level.
Most of the practices that these theories try to raise are geared towards grappling with the effects produced by the industrial and economic cultures that thrive in most countries. However, a variety of issues arise pertaining to the applicability of environmental ethics and whether the theoretical outcomes are attainable (Brennan and Lo, 2009). Nature has always been an important aspect of human life, this is evident with the recent surge of focus in the subject as more and more people become aware of the environment. The issue of environmental ethics came into being as a discipline in schools in the 1970’s.
Philosophies during the 1960’s had the perception that the late 20th century would witness a ‘population time bomb”. Rachael Carol was one of the vocal scientists who drew much attention to the issue of an environmental crisis by detailing the impact that pesticides would have on the environment. Lynn White jr. also did a masterpiece essay that traced the roots of environmental crisis by arguing that Judeo-Christian thinking was a major contributor in the over-exploitation of nature. He argues that the thinking was that human beings were superior to nature, which is a theory that is widely discussed in theology and history.
This as he argues tends to cause a kind of arrogance towards nature and this tends to be a cause environmental crisis (Brennan and Lo, 2009). Polluting or destroying the environment is behaviors that are considered as immoral and this perception proves that human beings are embracing the concept that a sustainable environment is necessary for survival. However, the process of keeping a sustainable environment may mean culling animals, destroying overpopulated species, putting out natural fires and this often leads to some issues such as the morality of the actions taken.
Another issue that arises is the restoration of an environment after destruction such as when a mining company restores a land after working on it for a while which begs the question of whether there is a “difference between restoring an environment or a natural one” (Brennan and Lo, 2009). Modern day scientists have often argued that finding a distinction between “instrumental values and intrinsic values” is of great importance (Brennan and Lo, 2009).
Instrumental values mean that are usable while on the other hand, intrinsic values are not reusable are an end to their survival. Fruits are considered to be of instrumental value to bats that feed on them since this makes the bats survive. The fruits on the other hand are not widely regarded as having an intrinsic value for themselves. This debate has been one of the contentious environmental ethics issues. Things considered being of intrinsic value demand protection morally with regard to those that are instrumental.
Most traditional thinkers often tagged the term intrinsic value only to humans with a renowned philosopher Aristotle arguing that “nature has made all things specifically for the sake of man” which means that everything else is classified as instrumental (Keller 2010). However, with the advent of the environmental ethics, the issue of man’s moral superiority to other species in the planet is been challenged. The other borne of contention that is trying to be tackled, is the classification of intrinsic and instrumental values among various species.
Modern scientists have often argued that the main essence of environmental ethics is directed towards providing moral grounds for policies that are aimed at protecting the planets environment and tackling issues of environmental degradation before they get out of hand (Keller, 2010). The fate of the outcomes that environmental ethics aims to fulfill lies in how various laws will be enacted. A considerable number of philosophers have come up with ideologies and they should be used in order to formulate laws so as to promote environmental values that are acceptable and also attainable.
Everybody should be part of ensuring that the environment is being conserved so as to ensure survival of for the present and future generations. It cannot escape out attention that we are living in a nuclear age where we heavily depend on energy that produces waste which some of it is hazardous to the environment and even unrecyclable. These types of waste require careful management in getting rid off, so as to ensure that they do not pose significant threats to the environment.
Although these types of waste may not have short-term effects at the present, they may be catastrophic for the future generation and thus the need to practice wise environmental ethics at the present to ensure survival and a future for the planet. References: Keller, D. R. (2010). Environmental Ethics: The Big Question. New York: John Wiley and Sons. Brennan, A. and Lo, Y. (2009). “Environmental Ethics”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2009 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed. ), derived on August 16, 2010 http://plato. stanford. edu/archives/win2009/entries/ethics-environmental/ .
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