Environmental Ethics

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The study of ethics is a very old process. It is a topic scholars have been studying and theorizing on for centuries. This is not the case when we talk about environmental ethics. The study of environmental ethics has only really been studied for the past forty years or so. Ethics is defined as the study of right and wrong conduct. (Ruggiero, (2008), pg. 5) This translates to the environment by how we as humans do right or wrong to the environment. For many years people have gone about their every day business not giving much thought to the consequences of their actions. It was taken for granted that the environment and its resources would always be there. We now know that is not the case. The Study of Ecology has shown us this fact. Through this paper I will discuss the past, present, and future of environmental ethics as well as give my position on the topic. To begin I will start with the history of environmental ethics. In the early 1970’s the idea of studying our impact on the environment had really just begun. In the beginning half of the 20th century people focused on progress. They focused on building and making and ultimately taking from the environment. “Modern production paid little or no attention to the fundamental mechanisms of the Earth. In the latter half of the twentieth century people began to realize that development was no longer sustainable without consideration for these functions of the Earth.” (“Environmental Ethics”, 2009) There were many papers written and events held in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s that contributed to the rise in environmental ethics as a popular topic. The publication of two papers in Science: Lynn White's "The Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis" (March 1967) and Garett Hardin's "The Tragedy of the Commons" (December 1968). Most influential with regard to this kind of thinking, however, was an essay in Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac, "The Land Ethic," in which Leopold explicitly claimed...
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