Medical Ethics Today’s Topics •The

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Medical Ethics Today’s Topics •The Powered By Docstoc
					    Today’s Topics
•The Land Ethic
•Deep vs. Shallow Ecology
•Gaia Hypothesis
            The Land Ethic:
• David Henry Thoreau
• John Muir (Sierra Club)
• Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac.
  Leopold is the intellectual successor to Muir.
• Other important nature writers: Wallace
  Stegner, Rachel Carson, Barbara McClintock
The Land Ethic and the Moral
• Ethics and society are coextensive.
  Moral duties and moral consideration
  stop at the edge of the community.
• The Land Ethic “simply enlarges the
  boundary of the community to includes
  soils, water, plants, and animals, or
  collectively: the land.”
             The Land Ethic
• A thing is right when it tends to preserve the
  integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic
  community. It is wrong when it tends
•        Aldo Leopold
   Social Health and the Moral
• You can judge the health and quality of
  a community by seeing how it treats its
  most vulnerable members—children,
  the elderly and the sick. Proverb
• If we extend the moral community as the
  land ethic requires, who are the most
  vulnerable members?
    Homo Economicus and Homo
• 3 Ways of life: Consumption, Conservation,
• Consumption—Use resources as you see fit
• Conservation—Wise use, shepherd resources,
  enlightened anthropocentrism
• Preservation—Preserve wilderness for its own sake
    Homo Economicus and Homo
• Why economic analysis isn’t enough.
• See. P. 143
• Living in a complex environment is a relational
• The good of any member of the system depends
  on the good and the well being of other members
  of the system.
• Law of unintended consequences: The Borneo cat
Deep Ecology
• Grows out of the tradition of Idealism
  – Idealism (Rationalism) and Realism
• Holistic and anti-reductionistic
• Focus on networks, communities and
• Rejects the dominant, scientific worldview
Dominant worldview focuses on
individuals and parts —reductionism
works, the whole is just the sum of
its parts

Deep ecology focuses on connected
networks—the whole cannot be
reduced to the sum of its parts
Idealism, Knowledge and Mysticism

• Scientific understanding is necessarily
• There is something more to reality, to
  the whole of existence, than science
  and logic can show us
• Metaphors of connection, dependence,
  mutual support, feedback and
  interdependent loops
Three Deep Ecological Theses
• Everything is connected to everything (and human
  changes to natural systems are usually
• Nature is more complex than we can ever think or
• Nature knows best
Deep vs. Shallow Ecology
• SE: Reduce pollution and resource depletion to
  improve the health and affluence of people in
  developed countries (RWPs)
• DE: Preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of
  the biotic community (independent of narrowly
  human values or desires) because the members of
  that community have equal rights to live, blossom
  and flourish
• Shallow Ecology          • Deep Ecology
• Diversity is a natural   • Diversity has intrinsic
  resource for humans        value
• Diversity is good for    • Diversity is good in
  humans                     and of itself
• Pollution is bad if it   • Decreasing pollution
  threatens economic         takes priority over
  progress                   economic progress
• Humans will not          • Humans should accept
  accept a decrease          a decrease in standards
  standards of living        of living
• Nature is cruel and   • Humans are cruel and not
  necessarily so          necessarily so
• Dominance over        • Harmony with the natural
  nature                  world
• Resources are ample   • Resources are limited
  or infinite
• Consumerism and       • Recognizing how much is
  competitive             enough
• Nation States         • Bioregions
Principles of deep ecology
     dominate much
• The oppression of women and the
  oppression of nature are two sides of one
• The logic of domination governs both forms
  of oppression
   The elements of the logic of
• Two groups are distinguished on the basis
  of some property
• A value hierarchy is attributed to the
• The subordination of one group by the other
  is justified by the fact that the oppressed
  group lacks the valued property
The logic of domination explains:
• The subordination of women
• The subordination of nature
• In fact, the western intellectual tradition
  identifies nature with the feminine and
  systematically devalues it
       Western Value Hierarchy
•   Superior       •   Inferior
•   Mental         •   Physical
•   Mind           •   Body (Matter)
•   Reason         •   Emotion
•   Thought        •   Brute Force
•   Planning       •   Instinct
      The Feminine and the Value
• The Western tradition identifies the feminine with
  the body.
• The value of a woman was long associated with
  her physical attributes more than her mental
• Age is far less a hindrance to men being attractive
  than to women being attractive.
• Child-bearing as the key to a woman’s value.
       Varieties of Feminism
• Equality feminism (traditional view)
• Radical Separatist (lesbian) feminism
• Difference feminism
       Difference Feminism
• Carol Gilligan and women’s moral
• Sandra Harding and women’s ways of
   Difference feminism tries to
   escape all dualistic thinking
• Don’t replace one evil dualism (the
  traditional world view) with another
  (women are closer to nature)
• Recognize that there are different values
  and that difference does not imply a
• Merge different ways of knowing
      Eco-feminism and deep
          ecology share:
•   Contextualism
•   Pluralism
•   Inclusiveness
•   Holism
Environmentalists MUST be
concerned about women’s issues
AND vice versa since the two
phenomena are sides of one coin
The Gaia Hypothesis
• We have discovered a living being
  bigger, more ancient, and more
  complex than anything from our
  wildest dreams.
• That being, called Gaia, is the Earth.
• James Lovelock , Sydney Epton, Lynn
  Margulis, James Kirchener
      Gaia and Mother Earth
• Take seriously the view that the earth is the
  mother of all living things.
• The physical conditions on earth that allow
  for life as we know it are unique in the
  solar system.
• The evolutionary history of the planet
  suggests a system that regulates the
  conditions that allow life.
                Threats to Gaia
• Continued life requires maintaining the balance of
  the system.
• Human actions present a real threat to the system
  that makes life possible.
  – Atmospheric change
  – Climate change
  – Water cycle change
• SO, human actions must be regulated for the good of
        Problems with The
         Gaia Hypothesis
• There are several different hypotheses
  all of which could be called the Gaia
• Testing Hypotheses
• Criteria of Testability--falsification
• Criteria of Usefulness—predictive and
  explanatory force and Ockham’s razor
           Gaia Hypotheses
• Two weak theses:
• Influential Gaia—temperature and
  atmospheric composition are actively
  regulated by the sum of life on the planet
• Coevolutionary Gaia—Biotic and abiotic
  environments mutually interact.
             Gaia Hypotheses
• Three strong theses
• Homeostatic Gaia—The interaction
  between biota and the abiotic environment
  is stabilizing. Negative feedback loops.
• Teleological Gaia—The homeostatic
  atmosphere has a purpose or design.
• Optimising Gaia—Biota manipulate the
  abiotic environment for their own good.

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