ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS LECTURE NOTES


Extrinsic Value - Some things are valuable because of the way in which they can be used or the benefits that
they provide.

         Computers, sprocket wrenches, and dictionary would be examples. These things are said to have
         “instrumental” or “extrinsic” value.

Intrinsic Value - Other things are valuable independently of any way that they can be used or any benefit
that they provide.

         According to Thomas Jefferson, human beings would be an example. These things are said to have
         “inherent” or “intrinsic” value. Is generally defined as the inherent worth of something, independent
         of its value to anyone or anything else.

Aesthetic values - Aesthetic values are a kind of extrinsic value, because aesthetic values provide humans
with a service of sorts -- our own satisfaction.

The concept of intrinsic value is highly philosophical. Many economists and some ethicists believe that
intrinsic value does not exist, arguing that all values are human-centered, that a value cannot exist without an


Extrinsic Value: Build a house, paper, ways in which a tree can be used to benefit mankind

Intrinsic Value: The inherent beauty of the tree is the value



Anthropocentric Ethic claims that only human beings are morally considerable in their own right, meaning
that all the direct moral obligations we possess, including those we have with regard to the environment, are
owed to our fellow human beings.

A frontier ethic assumes that the earth has an unlimited supply of resources. If resources run out in one area,
more can be found elsewhere or alternatively human ingenuity will find substitutes.

Biocentrism or ecocentrism is the notion that life is the center of the universe and humans are a separate but
equal part of nature

With ecocentric ethics, we move from individualistic to holistic approaches to environmental ethics.

Ecocentric asserts that our ethical duties are not to individuals but to the ecosystem as a whole.
Whether a particular organism has value and, if so, its degree of value will depend on its role in the larger

Deep Ecology:
Deep ecology is perhaps best understood as biocentrism with a strong social emphasis.

A form of environmentalism that advocates radical measures to protect the natural environment regardless of
their effect on the welfare of people.

It asserts, for example, that the lifestyle of persons in affluent nations must be dramatically changed and that
the human population of the Earth should be greatly reduced.

Deep ecologists are critical of globalization as well, arguing for the decentralization in the political and
economic spheres and for increased respect for cultural diversity.

Social Ecology:
Social Ecology holds that present ecological problems are rooted in deep-seated social problems, particularly
in dominate hierarchical political and social systems.

It suggests that this cannot be resisted by individual action such as ethical consumerism but must be
addressed by more nuanced ethical thinking and collective activity grounded in radical democratic ideals.

The complexity of relationships between people and with nature is emphasized, along with the importance of
establishing social structures that take account of this.

It is argued that humans must recognize that they are part of nature, not distinct or separate from it.

In turn then, human societies and human relations with nature can be informed by the non-hierarchical
relations found within the natural world.

For example, some philosophers point out that within an ecosystem, there is no species more important than
another, instead relationships are mutualistic and interrelated.

This interdependence and lack of hierarchy in nature, it is claimed, provides a blueprint for a non-
hierarchical human society.

Radical Ecology:
Radical Ecology argues that a broader philosophical perspective is needed, requiring fundamental changes in
both our attitude to and understanding of reality.

This involves reexamining who we are as human beings and our place within the natural world.

None of these radical ecologies confine themselves solely to the arena of ethics.

Instead, radical ecologies also demand fundamental changes in society and its institutions.

In other words, these ideologies have a distinctively political element, requiring us to confront the
environmental crisis by changing the very way we live and function, both as a society and as individuals.

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