Introduction to Ethics & Social Responsibility
April 1, 2010
Environmental Ethical Issues
Environmental ethics is the discipline in philosophy that studies the moral relationship of human beings to, and also the value and moral status of, the environment and its nonhuman contents (Brennan &Lo, 2008). Traditionally, environmental ethics put human being as the only living things with any intrinsic value, an end in itself. The earth and everything on the earth was strictly meant for the benefit of human beings. All other beings were regarded as having instrumental value; furthering some other ends. This theory or way of thinking is referred to as anthropocentric. In the last decades of the twentieth century this human centered theory was confronted with a new environmental ethical theory where humans were not the only living beings being considered to have intrinsic value. This new theory became one of importance because of the growing number of threats to the environmental condition of the world that we human beings live in. As human beings, the only ethical choice regarding the environment is to care for and preserve our environment so that we have an environment in which to prosper in the future.
In a essay written by historian Lynn White jr. on the historical roots of the environmental crisis, he argues that “the main strands of Judeo-Christian thinking had encouraged the overexploitation of nature by maintaining the superiority of humans over all other forms of life on earth, and by depicting all of nature as created for the human use” (Brennan & LO, 2008). These anthropocentric theories were originated from verses in the Bible where man is described as dominion over the earth and he should flourish and multiply. Judeo-Christian thoughts that lead humans to believe and live anthropocentrically are directly related to the environmental crisis that we face today.
In 1968, Stanford ecologist Paul Ehrlich Published The...